Translation: Tao Te King – Chapter 73. Freedom of action

Chapter 73. Freedom of action

Whose bravery manifests itself in defiance, he will be in the hands of death.

Whose bravery shows itself in self control, he stays.

Thus there are two kinds of bravery, one is unlucky and the other is beneficial.

But who can say why one of them receives the damnation of the heaven?

This is why the wise one notices action to be difficult.

The heavenly Tao does not compete, yet it wins everything; it does not speak and yet it is skilled in answering, it does not call and yet things come easily to it.

Picture of an empty speech bubble
Silence is golden but you cannot buy it with gold nor platinum. PD by artist and uploader Anynobody

It is quiet in its course of action and its actions are fully effective.

The net of the heaven has large meshes and yet nothing slips through them.


Own translation from 1925 Finnish translation by Pekka Ervast (ISBN 951-8995-01-X) with kind permission of Ruusu-Ristin Kirjallisuusseura ry.

Translation: Tao Te King – Chapter 72. Loving yourself

Chapter 72. Loving yourself

When the people don’t have correct fear for the current dangers, they plunge forward into even worse dangers¹.

Let them be cautious, that they don’t expand their house tired of the current state of things.

If they don’t despise it, no such weariness is born.

Drawn heart with text
PD by artist and uploader Vsion

This is why the wise one, even if he has self-esteem, does not brag.

He loves but does not place himself high.

That is how he avoids pride and is content.


  1. Mr. Ervast: “Or: When people don’t fear the majesty of power they are plunged deeper into the hands of reign of terror.

Own translation from 1925 Finnish translation by Pekka Ervast (ISBN 951-8995-01-X) with kind permission of Ruusu-Ristin Kirjallisuusseura ry.

Translation: Tao Te King – Chapter 71. The disease of ignorance

Chapter 71. The disease of ignorance

 

Electronic Frontier Foundation (eff.org) graphic created by EFF Senior Designer Hugh D'Andrade to illustrate EFF's work on health insurance and privacy.
Electronic Frontier Foundation (eff.org) graphic created by EFF Senior Designer Hugh D’Andrade to illustrate EFF’s work on health insurance and privacy. CC-BY 3.0 by artist and uploader Eff Graphics.

Knowing your own ignorance is the best knowledge.

Lack of such knowledge is disease.

If someone just considers it a disease, he is freed of it.

Wise one is free of this disease.

He knows what it is and is free of it.


Own translation from 1925 Finnish translation by Pekka Ervast (ISBN 951-8995-01-X) with kind permission of Ruusu-Ristin Kirjallisuusseura ry.

Translation: Tao Te King – Chapter 70. The difficulty of becoming known

Chapter 70. The difficulty of becoming known

Chinese characters for "words"
单词 – Chong Wen word for words

Easy are my words to learn and easy they are to put into practice.

Yet no-one can understand or enact them into practice.

For in my words is a distant origin and in my actions the highly law.

Those who do not know it, don’t know me either.

The ones who understand me are few and they give me value.

For a wise one is externally poor but in his bosom he has a jewel.


Own translation from 1925 Finnish translation by Pekka Ervast (ISBN 951-8995-01-X) with kind permission of Ruusu-Ristin Kirjallisuusseura ry.

Translation: Tao Te King – Chapter 69. Using the highly virtue

Chapter 69. Using the highly virtue

Picture of an ornamented spearhead from 6BC
Picture of an ornamented spearhead from 6BC, about the same time this book was written. CC-BY 3.0 by artist and uploader Anagoria

A great soldier has said “I don’t dare to be the master but would much rather be guest (i.e. I don’t want to give the call to battle but rather answer it.) I don’t want to advance an inch but would rather retreat a foot.”

This is what I call side-attack¹ and not advancing in the front of the ranks: it is  the same as carrying weapons without preparing  for fight, to grasp the sword without brandishing it and to advance on the enemy without attacking it.

There is nothing as unfortunate as going into war frivolously.

By doing this we risk of losing our most precious, i.e. our good temper.

Thus it happens that when opposing powers meet each other in battle, he who woes it will surely remain victor.


  1. Translator’s note: Mr. Ervast uses word “sivuhyökkäys” which is almost similar as “sivustahyökkäys” which means “flank attack”. I need to look this up in the original text to figure out what “sivuhyökkäys” meant in the 1920’s

Own translation from 1925 Finnish translation by Pekka Ervast (ISBN 951-8995-01-X) with kind permission of Ruusu-Ristin Kirjallisuusseura ry.

Translation: Tao Te King – Chapter 68. Imitating the heaven

Chapter 68. Imitating the heaven

Picture of some clouds, sky and earth taken from an airplane
CC-BY-SA 4.0 by artist and uploader Pockettihis

Who commands well, is not forceful.

Who fights well, is not angry.

The best of the winners does not brag war.

Of the masters the best one leads his servants by lowering himself.

This is the virtue of non-arguing. This is the virtue of assurance.

This is imitation of the heaven, which was the highest goal of the old ones.


Own translation from 1925 Finnish translation by Pekka Ervast (ISBN 951-8995-01-X) with kind permission of Ruusu-Ristin Kirjallisuusseura ry.

Translation: Tao Te King – Chapter 67. Three precious things

Chapter 67. Three precious things

The whole world acknowledges, that even if my taoism is great, it is not sufficient.

Its greatness makes it look inadequate.

If it were like the others it would have been found inadequate ages ago.

But I hold on to three precious things, which I also practice.

Celtic yin yang whorl in a triskele arrangement
Celtic yin yang whorl in a triskele arrangement; detail of the center of a bronze disc; find spot: Longban Island, Derry; pre-Christian period; on display at Ulster Museum in Belfast – CC-BY-SA 3.0 by artist and uploader Gun Powder Ma.

First one is good temper.

Second one is frugality

Third one is humbleness.

With good temper I can be courageous. With frugality I can be generous. With this humbleness I can be great in service like a vessel of honor.

But these days people abandon good temper and become intrusive.

They throw away frugality and become wasteful.

They leave humility and pursue proficiency and thus death.

Good temper is always victorious in attack and steadfast in defense.

That is why when heaven wants to conserve a human, it surrounds him with good temper.


Own translation from 1925 Finnish translation by Pekka Ervast (ISBN 951-8995-01-X) with kind permission of Ruusu-Ristin Kirjallisuusseura ry.

Translation: Tao Te King – Chapter 66. Placing yourself last

Chapter 66. Placing yourself last

Image of a turqoise lake with mountaneus backdrop
PD by artist and uploader Wieschendahl.

The great streams and rivers receive tax from all rivers and streams through their lowliness: this is the reason for their greatness.

That is why a wise one wanting to rule the people talks of himself as lower than them; and wanting to be able he sets himself back-most.

Thus even if he is higher than them, they don’t feel his weight, and even if he were to go in front of them he is a hindrance to none.

That is why the whole world raises him to glory and no-one is offended by it.

Because he does not compete, he has no-one envious of him.


Own translation from 1925 Finnish translation by Pekka Ervast (ISBN 951-8995-01-X) with kind permission of Ruusu-Ristin Kirjallisuusseura ry.

Translation: Tao Te King: Chapter 65 – Simple virtue

Chapter 65 – The simple virtue

 Illustration from Chinese book of alchemy
Scanned from “The Secret of the Golden Flower” by Richard Wilhelm and uploaded by Redheylin. PD-life-plus-70

The ancient ones who put the Tao into use, did not use it to make the people posh, but to make them simple and natural.

The difficulty of governing is due to too much statecraft.

He who tries to rule the kingdom with statecraft is only a menace to it, but whom rules without it is a blessing.

Knowing these two things is the real statecraft and following these is called the virtue of simplicity.

Deep and wide is this virtue of simplicity, and even if it is opposite to other means, it can bring about perfect order.


Own translation from 1925 Finnish translation by Pekka Ervast (ISBN 951-8995-01-X) with kind permission of Ruusu-Ristin Kirjallisuusseura ry.

Translation: Tao Te King – Chapter 64. Caring for the lowly ones

Chapter 64. Caring for the lowly ones

What is quiet is easily held on to.

What is expected is easily avoidable.

What is fragile is easily broken.

What is small breaks quickly.

Do your chores before they take on a form¹.

Arrange things before confusion starts.

Picture of a hollow California Red Tree with 2 humans posing inside of its hollow trunk
We would need many pairs of hands to reach around this one. Two humans included inside the tree. CC0 by artist and uploader Tomwsulcer

A tree that is as wide as your arms spread around grew from a small sprout.

A castle of nine stories arose from a small pile of rocks.

A journey of thousand kilometers started with one step.

He who only plans, he destroys.

He who reaches for, he loses.

A wise one does not do like that and therefore he never does evil.

He doesn’t reach for and therefore he does not lose.

But the united people fail in their endeavors on the eve of their success.

If they were as understanding in the end as they were in the beginning no such failures would be a-coming.

That is why the wise one wants only such that the others despise, and does not put value into things that are hard to attain.

He acquires common knowledge,  but returns to what the masses have left by the side of the road.

Thus he pursues natural development in all things and acts without planning.


  1. Mr. Ervast: ‘A wise one wins the disgust of his lower self before it grows into a monster “guarding the door step”‘

Own translation from 1925 Finnish translation by Pekka Ervast (ISBN 951-8995-01-X) with kind permission of Ruusu-Ristin Kirjallisuusseura ry.