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Inspirational Poems
Tao The Ching
Lao Tzu
Translated by John C. H. Wu

When all the world recognizes beauty as beauty, this itself is ugliness.
When all the world recognizes good as good, this in itself is evil.

Indeed, the hidden and the manifest give birth to each other.
Difficult and easy complement each other.
Long and short exhibit each other.
High and low set measure to each other.
Voice and sound harmonize each other.

Therefore, the sage manages his affairs without ado,
And spreads his teaching without talking.
He denies nothing to the teaming things.
He rears them, but lays no claim to them.
He does his work, but sets no stone by it.
He accomplishes his tasks, but does not dwell upon it.

And yet it is just because he does not dwell on it
That nobody can ever take it away from him.


As for your name and your body, which is dearer?
As for your body and wealth, which is the more to be prized?
As for gain and loss, which is the more painful?

Thus, an excessive love for anything will cost you dear in the end.
The storing up of too much good will entail a heavy loss.

To know when you have enough is to be immune from disgrace.
To know when to stop is to be preserved from perils.
Only thus can you endure long.