Translation: Tao Te King – Chapter 27. Utility of skillfulness

Chapter 27. Utility of skillfulness

A good walker does not leave dirt in his trail.

Picture of a celtic Yin Yang motif from 1st century AD
Celtic yin yang motif. Detail of an enamelled bronze plaque from horse-gear, dated to mid-1st century AD; find spot: Santon, Norfolk; on display at University Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in Cambridge. CC-BY-SA 3.0 by artist Gun Powder Ma

A good speaker doesn’t cause debate.

A good calculator doesn’t need calculating sticks.

A good keeper does not need locks or bolts and no-one can open what he has closed.

A good binder does not need rope and no-one can untie what he has tied.

A wise man is a steady and good helper of others and he doesn’t abandon anyone.

He is a constant good savior. He does not despise or hate anyone.

His sense is all-encompassing.

Good people teach each other and the wicked they use as material.¹

He who does not respect his teacher and hold his material well is astray even if he is called with.

This is as important as it is odd.²


  1. Mr. Ervast: “Laozi touches on the law of mental development that we do not need to go through all the forms of evil to experience what evil is. We can use our cognition and learn from the mistakes and sins of others.”
  2. Mr. Ervast: “Spectacularly wonderful is the law of development by which we cannot judge even bad people so we ourselves would not be astray! How is our Christian society? Compare Matthew 7:1-5.”³
  3. Matthew 7:1-5 “1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
    2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
    3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
    4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
    5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” (KJV)

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

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