Translation: Tao Te King – Chapter 69. Using the highly virtue

Chapter 69. Using the highly virtue

Picture of an ornamented spearhead from 6BC
Picture of an ornamented spearhead from 6BC, about the same time this book was written. CC-BY 3.0 by artist and uploader Anagoria

A great soldier has said “I don’t dare to be the master but would much rather be guest (i.e. I don’t want to give the call to battle but rather answer it.) I don’t want to advance an inch but would rather retreat a foot.”

This is what I call side-attack¹ and not advancing in the front of the ranks: it is  the same as carrying weapons without preparing  for fight, to grasp the sword without brandishing it and to advance on the enemy without attacking it.

There is nothing as unfortunate as going into war frivolously.

By doing this we risk of losing our most precious, i.e. our good temper.

Thus it happens that when opposing powers meet each other in battle, he who woes it will surely remain victor.


  1. Translator’s note: Mr. Ervast uses word “sivuhyökkäys” which is almost similar as “sivustahyökkäys” which means “flank attack”. I need to look this up in the original text to figure out what “sivuhyökkäys” meant in the 1920’s

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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