Translation: Tao Te King – Chapter 32. Rational virtue

Chapter 32. Rational virtue

The absolute Tao has no name.

Picture of a lake and some mountains
Hop in. It’s not very cold since it is not frozen,  yet. CC-BY-SA 3.0 by artist Bjarki Sigursveinsson.

Even if it is lowly in its original simplicity, the world dares not to mock it.

If the king could hold it in his hand, the world would willingly submit to him.

The heaven and the earth would form a pact to provide for him.

Without being forced the people would peacefully go to their natural places.

If he would organize them with titles and appointments, he would get a name for himself

But if he does wisely, he abandons the name and thus avoids the evil of classification.

Tao is to the world what streams and valleys are to big rivers and lakes.¹


  1. Mr. Ervast: “For the valley is the bottom of the lake and its requirement, even if it is not visible. If Tao gets to work in a human, the human will finds his own place and will not aim for higher than his wings can carry.”

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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