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.

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