Translation: Tao Te King – Chapter 40. Declining work

Chapter 40. Declining work

The way of the Tao goes backwards.¹

Picture of Yin yang swirls on Celtic bronze plaque from Mairy, Marne, dated to 4th century BC
Yin yang swirls on Celtic bronze plaque from Mairy, Marne, dated to 4th century BC; on display at Musée des Antiquités nationales in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. CC-BY-CA 3.0 by photographer and uploader Gun Powder Ma

Tao’s property is kindness.

Everything in the universe is because of Tao, but the existence of Tao from its inexistence.


  1. Mr. Ervast: ‘The road of Tao goes “backwards” i.e. back to itself. A human who walks the way of the Tao no longer goes “forward”, he no longer develops in the material world but detaches from it.’

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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