Translation: Tao Te King – Chapter 81. Proof of simplicity

Chapter 81. Proof of simplicity

Honest words are not high and mighty, mighty and high words are not reliable.

The man of  Tao does not argue.

Statue of Laozi in Quanzhou
Statue of Laozi in Quanzhou 中文: 福建泉州老君岩. Uploaded via Flickr to Commons by Dirrival.

Those who argue are not skilled in the Tao.

Those who know it are not scholars. The scholars don’t know it.

A wise man does not amass treasures.

The more he spends on others the more he himself has.

The more he gives to others the richer he becomes.

This is the heavenly Tao that passes through all things, but offends no-one.

This is the wise man’s Tao that acts but does not fight.

End of the Book of the Way of Virtue


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 2. Becoming perfect

Chapter 2. Becoming perfect

When the world speaks of the beauty of beauty then ugliness is defined in the same.

Painting picturing Laozi looking troubled
Laozi is not totally free of the pain of knowledge but knowing the Tao decreases the pain caused by search for information. PD-life-plus-70

When good is seen as good then evil is also immediately clear.

Thus being and unbeing both awaken each other; same as difficult and easy, distant and near, high and low, sounding and tinkling, head of the troop and the follower.

A wise one deals only with what is unprejudiced.

He teaches without using words; he works effortlessly, he produces without owning; he acts without seeking the fruits of labor; he finishes his tasks without borrowing; and as he does not claim anything to be his, it cannot be said that he would ever lose anything.


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 80. Standing alone

Chapter 80. Standing alone

If I had a small kingdom and only ten or hundred able men, I would not use them for government.

I would teach the people to view death as a high thing and then they would not go abroad to seek it.

Even if they had ships and carriages, they would not leave with them.

Painting of 2 women mending a fishing net
“Improve the present hour” by Winslow Homer depicting two women mending a fishing net. Uploaded by Davepape. PD-life-plus-100

Even if they had war gear they would never have an opportunity to wear them. The people would return again to using yarn and knots (instead of writing).

They would notice coarse food to be palatable, keep their simple clothing beautiful, see their houses as places of rest and would enjoy their simple entertainments.

Even if nearby there was another state and from there the crowing of the roosters and barking of the dogs sounded, my people would grow old and die without needing to socialize with 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 79. Keeping promise

Chapter 79. Keeping promise

When agreement has been reached after a long dispute, one side always grumbles. And how could this be said a good resolution to an argument?

That is why the wise one takes his part of the commitment and does not demand anything else for himself.

Picture of even scales made from
Glyph of the Unicode character U+2696 scales, using the font Symbola. CC0 and PD-unicode. Artist and uploader Karl432.

A just man checks only his own obligations in an agreement but the unjust seeks his own profit.

The heavenly Tao has no favorites.

It always helps the good.


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 14. Praising emptiness

Chapter 14. Praising emptiness

Smoothness is what cannot be seen when looking at it.

Silence is what cannot be heard when listening to it.

Rarity is what cannot be touched when trying to do so.

As these are inseparable from each other, they can be considered one – Tao¹.

It is not lit in height nor dark at low down.

The Yin and Yang with white representing Yang and black representing Yin.  The symbol is a visual depiction of the intertwined duality of all things in nature, a common theme in Taoism.
The Yin and Yang with white representing Yang and black representing Yin. The symbol is a visual depiction of the intertwined duality of all things in nature, a common theme in Taoism. PD-life-plus-100 SVG Artist: Klem

Boundless in its action, yet nameless. Going out it goes into itself.

This is the manifestation of the non-manifested’s form.

This is the unmeasured mystery. Going in front of it you cannot see its face; following it you cannot notice its back².

Yet directing your life by the old knowledge of Tao is finding the way.


  1. Mr. Ervast: “The text apparently means the absolute divinity (God) that is one with the Holy Trinity Logos (The Word), that cannot be seen, heard or touched, even as it is fullness of the infinite (flatness), eternal sound of silence and rarity i.e. separately manifest worlds, eternity and omnipresence in time and place .”
  2. Mr. Ervast: “The secret of divinity cannot be solved by anyone. He who pretends he is trying, he places himself in front of God supposedly to see his (face) goodness, but in reality he does not see it, but just goes backwards farther away from God. Or  if he doesn’t set³ himself bigger than God, but tries in a way by prying, looking and seeking to gain the secrets he will not even notice the back, he does not distinguish evil from good, darkness from light. And like it states in the last verse the way to God is discoverable.”
  3. Translator’s notice: There could potentially be a typo here. Finnish text does say “asetu” (to place [self]) whereas “aseta” (to place [God]) would make sense. Gotta check this in Chongwen some day.

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 6. The origin of beings

Chapter 6. The origin of beings

Photoshopped version of a 1972 photo
Color corrected version of a 1972 photo “The Blue Marble“. NASA images are PD unless otherwise noted.

Like the stream of the valley never dries, so the basic essence of the existing never dries.

I call it the Mother-depth.

The movement of the Mother-depth I call the parturient of the heaven and the earth.

Forever it stays, and moves without destination¹.


  1. Mr. Ervast: “This reminds us of the Indian sankhya-philosopy’s understanding of prakriti i.e. the female eternally creative basic essence.”

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 5. Value of emptiness

Chapter 5. Value of emptiness

Picture of old bellows
Image of a bellows by fourthandfifteen. via flicr.com CC-BY 2.0 by uploader NemesisIII

Not heaven nor earth have special preference; they consider all humans and beings as holy sacrificial figures.¹

A wise one makes not differentiation; he considers all humans as beings made for holy purposes.

Heavenly space is like bellows; even if it doesn’t contain anything solid, it never collapses onto itself and the more is put into movement, the more it gives birth.

But an inflated human soon deflates.

There is nothing better than self-control.


  1. Mr. Ervast: “Actually dogs made of straws that were used in sacrificial rites in the dry season. To the Logos i.e. the aware creative God all manifested life, humans, gods, animals and “lifeless” beings exist only as thought-images born from his sacrifice.

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 78. Embracing the truth

Chapter 78. Embracing the truth

The impact of a drop of water in a full glass of water
Image of a drop of water impacting some water that doesn’t mind it. CC-BY-SA 3.0 by photographer and uploader Roger McLassus.

Nothing in this world is as weak and bendable like water is, yet for breaking down the mighty there is nothing like it.

There is no choice to be made here.

The whole world knows that the soft can wear the hard down and that the weak wins the strong, but no-one endures to act it out in his actions.

That is why the wise one says: “He who bears the sins of his country, is truly the lord of the country. Who bears the sufferings of the people is truly their king.¹

The words of truth are always peculiar (paradoxes)!


  1. Mr. Ervast: “Even as this is the savior moral of all ages, there is also a view of the coming savior of the world.”

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 76. The danger of power

Chapter 76. The danger of power

Image of a small baby sleeping.
CC-BY 3.0 by artist and uploader Kamaljeee

When a human is born he is delicate and weak, when dying he is stiff and powerful.

The same is with all things. Trees and sprouts in their early growth are soft and flexibile, but when they are dying they are dried up and tough.

Their hardness and stiffness are the companions of death, but finesse and flexibility are the companions of life.

That is why the soldier by trusting in his force does not conquer death and similarly a a strong tree becomes only firewood. For the strong and thick should be low but silent and consenting should be high.


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 75. The evil of greed

Chapter 75. The evil of greed

Image of farm workers harvesting a rice crop by hand
Photo by Kusakabe Kimbei. PD-life-plus-70

The people suffer hunger because those above them set heavy tax burdens on them. This is the cause of their lacking.

The people are hard to govern because of the commanding nature of those who are above them. This is the source of confusion.

People despise death because enduring life is so much pain.

That is the reason of their carelessness towards death.

That is why it is better to live secluded than to make much a-do about your life.


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