Compiled by Michael P. Garofalo, Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Center, Gushen Grove Notebooks, Red Bluff, California
Chapter 13 Chapter 15 Index to All the Chapters Taoism Cloud Hands Blog
English Chinese Spanish
English and Chinese (Wade-Giles) Terms: In Praise of the Profound, Hear or Listen (t'ing); It is Colorless, Silent, and Subtle; Manifestation of the Mystery, See or Seen (chien), Invisible, Clue, Blend or Merge (hun), Shapeless, Non- or Without (wu), Form of the Formless, Soundless or Inaudible (hsi), Something Shapeless, Elusive and Evasive, Ancient or Old or Antiquity (ku), Faceless and Backless, Obtain or Catch (tê), Void, Marvelous, Mysterious, Nameless, Evasive or Elusive or Illusory (huang), Secret, Invaluable Thread, Strand or lineage or Tradition (chi), Intangible, Inquire or Scrutiny (chieh), Colorless, Silent, Elusive, Serene, Zenith, One or Unity (yi), Nadir, Front (ying), Back or Rear (hou), Empty, Invisible or Elusive (yi), Nameless, Master or Control (yü), Rarefied, Speak or Say (yüeh), Present, Look or Perceive (shih), Touch or Grasp (po), Above or Surface or Top (shang), Timeless, Hear or Heard (wên), Name (ming), Image of the Imageless, Head or Face (shou), Bright or Dazzling (chiao), Three (san), Top, Bottom or Below (hsia), Formless or Minute or Fading (wei), Celebration of Mystery, Continuous or Unceasing (shêng), Form or Image or Figure (hsiang), The Way Things Are or Nature or World or Path or Universe (Tao, Dao), Returns or Reverts (fu), Now or The Present (chin), Without Existence or Non-Being or Nothingness (wu wu), 贊玄
Términos en Español: Elogio de lo Profundo, Oír, Escuchar, Incoloro, Silencioso, Sutil, Manifestación del Misterio, Ver, Visto, Invisible, Sin Forma, Inaudible, Algo Sin Forma, Esquiva, Evasivo, Antiguo, Viejo, Antigüedad, Sin Rostro, Sin Respaldo, Obtener, Captura, Vacío, Misterioso, Sin Nombre, Evasiva, Elusiva, Ilusorio, Secreto, Hilo Invaluable, Linaje, Tradición, Solicitar, Escrutinio, Uno, Nadir, Atrás, Posterior, Maestro, Sabio, Enrarecido, Hablar, Presente, Percibir , Toque, Agarre, Encima, Tres, Superior, Nombre, Imagen, Cabeza, Cara, Brillante, Deslumbrante, Inferior , Debajo, Minuto, Desvanecimiento, Celebración del Misterio, Continua, Incesante, Figura, Ruta, Universo, Devoluciones, Revierte, Ahora, en el presente, Sin Existencia, Nada.
"We look at Reason and do not see it; its name is Colorless.
We listen to Reason and do not hear it; its name is Soundless.
We grope for Reason and do not grasp it; its name is Bodiless.
These three things cannot further be analyzed.
Thus they are combined and conceived as a unity which on its surface is not clear and in its depth not obscure.
Forever and aye Reason remains unnamable, and again and again it returns home to non-existence.
This is called the form of the formless, the image of the imageless.
This is called the transcendentally abstruse.
In front its beginning is not seen.
In the rear its end is not seen.
By holding fast to the Reason of the ancients, the present is mastered and the origin of the past understood.
This is called Reason's clue."
- Translated by D. T. Suzuki and Paul Carus, 1913, Chapter 14
"What cannot be seen is called evanescent;
What cannot be heard is called rarefied;
What cannot be touched is called minute.
These three cannot be fathomed
And so they are confused and looked upon as one.
Its upper part is not dazzling;
Its lower part is not obscure.
Dimly visible, it cannot be named
And returns to that which is without substance.
This is called the shape that has no shape,
The image that is without substance.
This is called indistinct and shadowy.
Go up to it and you will not see its head;
Follow behind it and you will not see its rear.
Hold fast to the way of antiquity
In order to keep in control the realm of today.
The ability to know the beginning of antiquity
Is called the thread running through the way."
- Translated by D. C. Lau, 1963, Chapter 14
"That which may be looked for, but proves invisible, is
called the Distant.
That which may be listened for, but proves inaudible, is called Vacancy.
That which may be clutched at, but proves intangible, is called the Subtle.
Words are inadequate thoroughly to examine these three properties; therefore they blend together and become One.
Above, it is not bright; below, it is not dim.
Continuous in endurance, it cannot be named.
In reverting to vacuity it may be called the Form of Formlessness, the Image of the Non-existent; for which reasons it is unsearchable.
Standing opposite to it, one cannot see its head; following it, one cannot perceive its back.
Obtaining the Tao of ancient times, and applying it as an aid to the methods in vogue at the present day, so that one is able to arrive at a knowledge of its long-past origin, may be called 'Getting the Germ, or Clue, of Tao' "
- Translated by Frederick Henry Balfour, 1884, Chapter 14
"We look at it, and do not see it; it is invisible.
We listen to it, and do not hear it; it is inaudible.
We touch it, and do not feel it; it is intangible.
These three elude our inquiries, and hence merge into one.
Not by its rising, is it bright,
nor by its sinking, is it dark.
Infinite and eternal, it cannot be defined.
It returns to nothingness.
This is the form of the formless, being in non-being.
It is nebulous and elusive.
Meet it, and you do not see its beginning.
Follow it, and you do not see its end.
Stay with the ancient Way
in order to master what is present.
Knowing the primeval beginning is the essence of the Way."
- Translated by Sanderson Beck, 1996, Chapter 14
Created by Michael P. Garofalo, Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Center, Gushen Grove Notebooks, Red Bluff, California, © 2015 CCA 4.0
"What you don't see when you look
is called the unobtrusive.
What you don hear when you listen
is called the rarefied.
What you don't get when you grasp
is called the subtle.
These three cannot be completely fathomed,
so they merge into one:
above is not bright, below is not dark.
Continuous, unnameable, it returns again to
This is called the stateless state,
the image of no thing;
this is called mental abstraction.
When you face it you do not see its head,
when you follow it you do not see its back.
Hold the ancient Way
so as to direct present existence:
only when you can know the ancient
can this be called the basic cycle of the Way."
- Translated by Thomas Cleary, 1991, Chapter 14
Cloud Hands Blog
"Looked at, but cannot be seen -
That is called the Invisible (yi).
Listened to, but cannot be heard -
That is called the Inaudible (hsi).
Grasped at, but cannot be touched -
That is called the Intangible (wei).
These three elude our inquiries
And hence blend and become One.
Not by its rising, is there light,
Nor by its sinking, is there darkness.
It cannot be defined,
And reverts again to the realm of nothingness.
That is why it is called the Form of the Formless,
The Image of Nothingness.
That is why it is called the Elusive:
Meet it and you do not see its face;
Follow it and you do not see its back."
- Translated by Lin Yutang, 1955, Chapter 14
"talking about the character of the tao source of
talking about the lessons of the tao way of life is
because the real way is a revealed way
awakened to yourself
only through an imitation
of the way
but where are the clues to this awakening
look all around yourself deliberately
and attempt to see the nothing that is
deliberately all around yourself
nothing no thing nothing
if you cannot see it
then you are in its presence
try to listen deliberately
to the space between the sounds
of your deliberate world
if you do not hear anything
then you will be hearing it through its absence
grab hold of something with your hand and let it go
no imagine some things that you cannot grasp
with either your
hand or mind
then you will surely be holding it
invisible inaudible intangible
the form and function of these three components
creating the tao way of life
do not think of it as upper and lower or dark and
bright or rise and
instead view the miracle as something that is
unnamable and totally elusive
it is a formless form and a methodless method
that gives birth to an image of no thing
when you confront it
there is no face to look at
when you pursue it
there is no shape to follow
it does not tao talk
it does not tao act
but if you look for the wisdom that it leaves it its
and deal with present realities accordingly
then you will have seized the beginning moment
that is the tao way of living."
- Translated and interpolated by Reverend Venerable John Bright-Fey, 2006, Chapter 14
"Looked for, it cannot be found, so we call it Exotic.
Listened for, it cannot be heard, so we call it Rare.
Reached for, it cannot be grasped, so we call it Infinitesimal.
Because these three are each incomprehensible
and cannot be fathomed, they blend as one.
Its top is not bright; its bottom is not dark.
Define it? It cannot be defined.
It returns back to nothingness.
It is called the invisible appearance,
the semblance of nothingness.
It is called Vague.
Face it and we cannot see where it begins.
Follow it and we cannot see where it ends.
Grasp this ancient Tao to get a handle on the present.
We can know this ancient source:
It is called The Sign of the Tao."
- Translated by Roderic and Amy Sorrell, 2003, Chapter 14
"Look for it, you won't see It;
It is called 'fleeting.'
Listen for It, you won't hear It;
It is called 'thin.'
Grasp at It, You can't get It;
It is called 'subtle.'
These three lines
Are about something that evades scrutiny.
Yes, in it everything blends and becomes one.
Its top is not bring
Its underside is not dim.
It runs back to nothingness.
This is the shape of something shapeless
The form of a nothing
This is elusive and evasive.
Encountering it, you won't see the front
Following it, you won't see its back.
Keep to the Tao of the ancients
And so manage things happening today.
The ability to know the ancient sources
This is the main thread of Tao."
- Translated by Michael LaFargue, 1992, Chapter 14
A Chinese Language Version of Chapter 14 of the Tao Te
Ching by Lao Tzu
A note on my style of displaying the Chinese characters of the Tao Te Ching
- Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 14
shih chih pu chien ming yüeh yi.
t'ing chih pu wên ming yüeh hsi.
po chih pu tê ming yüeh wei.
tz'u san chê pu k'o chih chieh.
ku hun erh wei yi.
ch'i shang pu chiao ch'i hsia pu mei.
shêng shêng pu k'o ming.
fu kuei yü wu wu.
shih wei wu chuang chih chuang.
wu wu chih hsiang.
shih wei hu huang.
ying chih pu chien ch'i shou.
sui chih pu chien ch'i hou.
chih ku chih tao.
yi yü chin chih yu.
nêng chih ku shih.
shih wei tao chi.
- Wade-Giles Romanization, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 14
Audio Version in Chinese of Chapter 14 of the Tao Te Ching
shi zhi bu jian ming yue yi. ting zhi bu wen ming yue xi. bo zhi bu de ming yue wei. ci san zhe bu ke zhi jie. gu hun er wei yi. qi shang bu jiao qi xia bu mei. sheng sheng bu ke ming. fu gui yu wu wu. shi wei wu zhuang zhi zhuang. wu wu zhi xiang. shi wei hu huang. ying zhi bu jian qi shou. sui zhi bu jian qi hou. zhi gu zhi dao. yi yu jin zhi you. neng zhi gu shi. shi wei dao ji. - Pinyin Romanization, Daodejing, Chapter 14
shi4 zhi1 bu2 jian4 ming2 yue1 yi2. ting1 zhi1 bu4 wen2 ming2 yue1 xi1. bo2 zhi1 bu4 de2 ming2 yue1 wei1. ci3 san1 zhe3 bu4 ke3 zhi4 jie2. gu4 hun4 er2 wei2 yi1. qi2 shang4 bu4 jiao3 qi2 xia4 bu4 mei4. sheng2 sheng2 bu4 ke3 ming2. fu4 gui1 yu2 wu2 wu4. shi4 wei4 wu2 zhuang4 zhi1 zhuang4. wu2 wu4 zhi1 xiang4. shi4 wei4 hu1 huang3. ying2 zhi1 bu2 jian4 qi2 shou3. shi2 zhi1 bu2 jian4 qi2 hou4. zhi2 gu3 zh1 dao4. yi3 yu4 jin1 zhi1 you3. neng2 zhi1 gu3 shi3. shi4 wei4 dao4 ji4. - Pinyin Romanization (tone numbered), Daodejing, Chapter 14
Dao De Jing Pinyin Romanization (Tone Numbered)
1-7 (714-720) , , shi4 . zhi1 . bu2 . jian4 , ming2 . yue1 . yi2 . 8-14 (721-727) , , ting1 . zhi1 . bu4 . wen2 , ming2 . yue1 . xi1 . 15-21 (728-734) , , bo2 . zhi1 . bu4 . de2 , ming2 . yue1 . wei1 . 22-28 (735-741) , , ci3 . san1 . zhe3 , bu4 . ke3 . zhi4 . jie2 . 29-33 (742-746) gu4 . hun4 . er2 . wei2 . yi1 . 34-37 (747-750) qi2 . shang4 . bu4 . jiao3 . 38-41 (751-754) qi2 . xia4 . bu4 . mei4 . 42-46 (755-759) sheng2 . sheng2 . bu4 . ke3 . ming2 . 47-51 (760-764) fu4 . gui1 . yu2 . wu2 . wu4 . 52-57 (765-770) shi4 . wei4 . wu2 . zhuang4 . zhi1 . zhuang4 . 58-61 (771-774) wu2 . wu4 . zhi1 . xiang4 . 62-65 (775-778) shi4 . wei4 . hu1 . huang3* . 66-71 (779-784) ying2 . zhi1 . bu2 . jian4 . qi2 . shou3 . 72-77 (785-790) sui2 . zhi1 . bu2 . jian4 . qi2 . hou4 . 78-86 (791-799) zhi2 . gu3 . zhi1 . dao4 . yi3 . yu4 . jin1 . zhi1 . you3 . 87-90 (800-803) neng2 . zhi1 . gu3 . shi3 . 91-94 (804-807) shi4 . wei4 . dao4 . ji4
- Daodejing: Pinyin, Seal Script, Standard Characters, Line Numbers, Chapter 14 Dao De Jing Pinyin Tone Numbered
Tao Te Ching in Chinese characters and English (includes a word by word key) from YellowBridge
Tao Te Ching in Chinese characters, Pinyin Romanization, English and German by Dr. Hilmar Alquiros.
Laozi Daodejing: Chapters with Chinese characters, seal script, detailed word by word concordance, Pinyin (tone#), German, French and English.
Chinese and English Dictionary, MDGB
Chinese Character Dictionary
Dao De Jing Wade-Giles Concordance by Nina, Dao is Open
Dao De Jing English and Wade-Giles Concordance by Mike Garofalo
Tao Te Ching in Pinyin Romanization with Chinese characters, WuWei Foundation
Tao Te Ching in Pinyin Romanization
Tao Te Ching in Chinese characters and English
Tao Te Ching: English translation, Word by Word Chinese and English, and Commentary, Center Tao by Carl Abbott
Tao Te Ching in Chinese characters, English, Word by word analysis, Zhongwen
Tao Te Ching: The Definitive Edition Chinese characters, Wade-Giles Romanization, and a list of meanings for each character by Jonathan Star
Tao Te Ching in Chinese characters: Big 5 Traditional and GB Simplified
Convert from Pinyin to Wade Giles to Yale Romanizations of Words and Terms: A Translation Tool from Qi Journal
Chinese Characters, Wade-Giles and Pinyin Romanizations, and 16 English Translations for Each Chapter of the Daodejing by Mike Garofalo.
Tao Te Ching in Chinese characters, Pinyin and Wade Giles Romanization spellings, English; a word for word translation of the Guodian Laozi Dao De Jing Version.
Lao Zi's Dao De Jing: A Matrix Translation with Chinese Text by Bradford Hatcher.
"What is looked at but not (pu) seen,
Is named the extremely dim (yi).
What is listened to but not heard,
Is named the extremely faint (hsi).
What is grabbed but not caught,
Is named the extremely small (wei).
These three cannot be comprehended,
Thus they blend into one.
As to the one, its coming up is not light,
Its going down is not darkness.
Again it reverts to nothing.
Therefore it is called the formless form,
The image (hsiang) of nothing.
Therefore it is said to be illusive and evasive (hu-huang).
Come toward it one does not see its head,
Follow behind it one does not see its rear.
Holding on to the Tao of old (ku chih tao),
So as to steer in the world of now (chin chih yu).
To be able to know the beginning of old,
It is to know the thread of Tao."
- Translated by Ellen Marie Chen, 2000, Chapter 14
"We look for it but do not see it:
we name it "subtle."
We listen for it but do not hear it;
we name it "rare."
We grope for it but do not grasp it;
we name it "serene."
These three cannot be fully fathomed,
They are bound together to make unity.
its top is not distant,
its bottom is not blurred.
It returns to non-entity.
This is called
"the form of the formless,"
"the image of nonentity."
This is called "the amorphous."
Following behind it,
you cannot see its back;
Approaching it from the front,
you cannot see its head.
Hold to the Way of today
to manage the actualities of today
thereby understanding the primeval beginning.
This is called "the thread of the Way.""
- Translated by Victor H. Mair, 1990, Chapter 14
"Looking at it, you do not see it, you call it Invisible.
Listening to it, you do not hear it, you call it Inaudible.
Touching it, you do not grasp it, you call it Intangible.
These three cannot be described, but they blend, and are One.
Above, it is not bright;
Below, it is not dim;
It cannot be called by a Name,
It enters into Form, and returns into Spirit.
That is why it is called Spiritual Form of Form, Spiritual Image of Image.
That is why it is called vague and indeterminate.
Meet it, you cannot see its beginning;
Follow it, and you cannot see its end.
Consider the Tao of Old in order to arrange affairs of Now.
To be able to know the Life-Spring of Old is to give expression to the Thread of the Tao."
- Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 14
Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices By Mike Garofalo
"We look at it, and we do not see it, and we name it 'the Equable.'
We listen to it, and we do not hear it, and we name it 'the Inaudible.'
We try to grasp it, and do not get hold of it, and we name it 'the Subtle.'
With these three qualities, it cannot be made the subject of description;
Hence we blend them together and obtain The One.
Its upper part is not bright, and its lower part is not obscure.
Ceaseless in its action, it yet cannot be named, and then it again returns and becomes nothing.
This is called the Form of the Formless, and the Semblance of the Invisible;
This is called the Fleeting and Indeterminable.
We meet it and do not see its Front; we follow it, and do not see its Back.
When we can lay hold of the Dao of old to direct the things of the present day,
And are able to know it as it was of old in the beginning,
This is called unwinding the clue of Dao."
- Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 14
"It cannot be seen, so we name it unclear;
It cannot be heard, so we name it indistinct;
It cannot be grasped, so we name it insubstantial.
Incomprehensive: warp and weft of the One.
Beyond light and dark, beyond up and down,
beyond here and there, neither formless or formed,
it cannot be named.
Waxing and waning, re-turning itself,
its empty vast no-thing original face.
Not before nor behind, every where it greets us,
every when meeting it,
we meet ourselves meeting,
thread the tread of this Way."
- Translated by Robert Meikyo Rosenbaum, 2013, Chapter 14
you look, it isn't there
Listen and you cannot hear it
It seems to be beyond your reach
Because you are so near it
This single source of everything
Appears to be an empty image
Though it cannot be understood
You can see its naked visage
Follow it to nothingness
Approach it where you have no face
From nowhere to infinity
This vacant image leaves no trace
From never to eternity
This naked face is what you are
An empty, vacant, open door
- Translated by Jim Clatfelder, 2000, Chapter 14
it, it cannot be seen.
It is called the distant.
Listen for it, it cannot be heard.
It is called the rare.
Reach for it, it cannot be gotten.
It is called the subtle.
These three ultimately cannot be fathomed.
Therefore they join to become one.
Its top is not bright;
Its bottom is not dark;
Existing continuously, it cannot be named and it returns to no-thingness.
Thus, it is called the formless form,
The image of no-thing.
This is called the most obscure.
Go to meet it, you cannot see its face.
Follow it, you cannot see its back.
By holding to the ancient Tao
You can manage present existence
And know the primordial beginning.
This is called the very beginning thread of the Tao."
- Translated by Charles Muller, 1891, Chapter 14
Created by Michael P. Garofalo, Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Center, Gushen Grove Notebooks, Red Bluff, California, © 2015 CCA 4.0
"We look but don't see it and call it indistinct we
listen but don't hear it and call it faint
we reach but don't grasp it and call it ethereal
three failed means to knowledge I weave into one
with no light above and no shade below too fine to be named returning to nothing
this is the formless form the immaterial image this is the waxing waning we meet without seeing its face
we follow without seeing its back
holding onto this very Way we rule this very realm and discover its ancient past this is the thread of the Way."
- Translation by Red Pine (Bill Porter), 1996, Chapter 14
"Looking for it, it cannot be seen -
Being formless, it is called Yi, the invisible.
Listening to it, it cannot be heard -
Being soundless, it is called Hsi, the inaudible.
Grasping at it, it cannot be reached -
Being subtle, it is called Wei, the intangible.
These three; imperceptible, indescribable -
Mystically united and elusively perceived
as an undefinable oneness.
As the oneness ascends - no light appears.
As the oneness descends - no darkness is perceived.
Unceasingly, continually, form eluding definition,
Evasively reverting to spirit - to nothingness.
The form of formlessness.
The image of imagelessness.
The oneness remains nameless.
Meeting it, it has no part which is front.
Following it, it has no behind.
Encompassing the ancient Tao,
Present affairs are mastered.
Knowing the primal nature of mankind
and the universe,
Is to know the essence of Tao."
- Translated by Alan B. Taplow, 1982, Chapter 14
Tao Te Ching Translated by Stephen Addiss and Stanley Lombardo
Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching Translated by John C. WuLao-Tzu and the Tao-Te-Ching Translated by Livia Kohn
Dao De Jing: The Book of the Way Translated by Moss Roberts
"Look at it, it cannot be seen
It is called colorless
Listen to it, it cannot be heard
It is called noiseless
Reach for it, it cannot be held
It is called formless
These three cannot be completely unraveled
So they are combined into one
Above it, not bright
Below it, not dark
Continuing endlessly, cannot be named
It returns back to nothingness
Thus it is called the form of the formless
The image of the imageless
This is called enigmatic
Confront it, its front cannot be seen
Follow it, its back cannot be seen
Wield the Tao of the ancients
To Manage the existence of today
One can know the ancient beginning
It is called the Tao Axiom."
- Translated by Derek Lin, 2006, Chapter 14
"Looking at it, one cannot see it;
it is named the invisible.
Listening to it, one cannot hear it;
it is named the inaudible.
Grasping at it, one cannot get it;
it is named the immaterial.
These three cannot be inquired into;
therefore, they are blended into one.
Above it, there is no light;
below it, there is no darkness.
Unnameable, it returns again to the no-thingness.
This is called the form of the formless, the image of nothingness.
This is called the vague, the elusive.
Meeting it, one does not see its face;
Following it, one does not see its back.
If one holds to the Way of ancient times,
one can manage existence in the present.
That one can know the origin,
is called the record of the Way."
- Translated by Yi Wu, Chapter 14
"Look at it, but you cannot see it.
Because it is formless, you call it invisible.
Listen to it, but you cannot hear it.
Because it is soundless, you call it inaudible.
Grasp it, but it is beyond your reach.
Because it is subtle, you call it intangible.
These three are indescribable and imperceptible,
but in the mystical moment
you see it, hear it, and grasp it,
the Unseen, Unheard and Unreachable
presents itself as the indefinable essence.
Confront it, and you do not see its face.
Follow it, and you do not see its back.
It does not appear bright when viewed at the zenith.
Nor does it appear dark when viewed at the nadir.
There is nothing that can make this subtle essence
of the universe distinct.
When you try to make it clear to yourself,
it evasively reverts to Nothingness."
- Translation by Hua-Ching Ni, 1995, Chapter 14
Walking the Way: 81 Zen Encounters with the Tao Te Ching by Robert Meikyo Rosenbaum
The Tao of Zen by Ray Grigg
Tao Te Ching: Zen Teachings on the Taoist Classic by Takuan Soho
Buddhism and Taoism Face to Face: Scripture, Ritual, and Iconographic Exchange in Medieval China by Christine Mollier
"They call it elusive, and say
That one looks
But it never appears.
They say that indeed it is rare,
Since one listens,
But never a sound.
Subtle, they call it, and say
That one grasps it
But never gets hold.
These three complaints amount
To only one, which is
Beyond all resolution.
At rising, it does not illumine;
At setting, no darkness ensues;
It stretches far back
To that nameless estate
Which existed before the creation.
Describe it as form yet unformed;
As shape that is still without shape;
Or say it is vagueness confused:
One meets it and it has no front;
One follows and there is no rear.
If you hold ever fast
To that most ancient Way,
You may govern today.
Call truly that knowledge
Of primal beginnings
The clue to the Way."
- Translation by Raymond B. Blakney, 1955, Chapter 14
"Looked at but not seen, listened to but not heard, grasped for but not held, formless, soundless, intangible:
the Tao resists analysis and defies comprehension.
Its rising is not about light, its setting not a matter of darkness.
Unnameable, unending, emerging continually, and continually pouring back into nothingness,
It is formless form, unseeable image, elusive, evasive unimaginable mystery.
Confront it, and you won't see its face.
Follow it and you can't find an end.
Perceive its ancient subtle heart, however, and you become master of the moment.
Know what came before time, and the beginning of wisdom is yours."
- Translated by Brian Browne Walker, 1996, Chapter 14
"Gnade ist beschämend wie ein Schreck.
Ehre ist ein großes Übel wie die Person.
Was heißt das : Gnade ist beschämend wie ein Schreck?
Gnade ist etwas Minderwertiges.
Man erlangt sie und ist wie erschrocken.
Man verliert sie und ist wie erschrocken.
Das heißt: Gnade ist beschämend wie ein Schreck.
Was heißt das: Ehre ist un großes Übel wie die Person?
Der Grund, warum ich große Übel erfahre, ist,
daß ich eine Person habe.
Habe ich keine Person,
was für Übel konnte ich dann erfahren?
Darum: Wer in seiner Person die Welt ehrt,
dem kann man wohl die Welt anvertrauen.
Wer in seiner Person die Welt liebt,
dem kann man wohl die Welt übergeben."
- Translated by Richard Wilhelm, 1911, Chapter 14
"What we look for
And call the unseen,
Listen for beyond hearing
And call the unheard,
Grasp for beyond reaching
And call the withheld,
Merge beyond understanding
In a oneness
Which does not merely rise and give light,
Does not merely set and leave darkness,
But forever sends forth a succession of living things as mysterious
As the unbegotten existence to which they return.
That is why men have called them empty phenomena,
In a mirage
With no face to meet,
No back to follow.
Yet one who is anciently aware of existence
Is master of every moment,
Feels no break since time beyond time
In the way life flows."
- Translated by Witter Bynner, 1944, Chapter 14
Created by Michael P. Garofalo, Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Center, Gushen Grove Notebooks, Red Bluff, California, © 2015 CCA 4.0
Further Teachings of Lao-Tzu: Understanding the Mysteries (Wen Tzu) Translated by Thomas Cleary
The Lunar Tao: Meditations in Harmony with the Seasons By Deng Ming-DaoAwakening to the Tao By Lui I-Ming (1780) and translated by Thomas Cleary
Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices By Mike Garofalo
Zhuangzi: The Essential Writings with Selections from Traditional Commentaries Translation and commentary by Brook ZiporynThe Inner Chapters of Chuang Tzu (Zhuangzi) Translated by A. C. Graham
"Plainness is that which cannot be seen by looking at it.
Stillness is that which cannot be heard by listening to it.
Rareness is that which cannot be felt by handling it.
These, being indiscernible, may be regarded as a Unity of the Tao.
It is not bright above nor dark beneath.
Infinite in operation, it is yet without name.
Issuing forth it enters into Itself.
This is the appearance of the Non-Apparent, the form of the Non-Existent.
This is the unfathomable mystery.
Going before, its face is not seen; following after, its back is not observed.
Yet to regulate one's life by the ancient knowledge of Tao is to have found the path."
- Translated by Walter Gorn Old, 1904, Chapter 14
"Look at it: nothing to see.
Call it colorless.
Listen to it: nothing to hear.
Call it soundless.
Reach for it: nothing to hold.
Call it intangible.
it merges into oneness,
not bright above,
not dark below.
Never, oh! never
can it be named.
It reverts, it returns
Call it the form of the unformed,
the image of no image.
Call it the unthinkable thought.
Face it: no face.
Follow it: no end.
Hold fast to the old Way,
we can live in the present.
Mindful of the ancient beginnings,
we hold the thread of the Tao."
- Translated by Ursula K. Le Guin, 1997, Chapter 14
"Look at it, but it cannot be seen, it is called "the shapeless".
Listen to it, but it cannot be heard, it is called "the soundless".
Grasp it, but it cannot be held, it is called "the bodyless".
These three characteristics are incomprehensible, yet they uniquely constitute the oneness of Dao.
Look upward, it is not clear.
Look downward, it is not dim.
We are unable to trace it's original name because it returns to the state of Unknown existence.
It is called "the formless form" and "the imageless image".
That is why it is called "the indistinct and elusive".
To embrace Dao from ancient times is to know the original causes of the past in order to control what is going on in the present.
This is called "the Law of Dao"."
- Translated by Tang Zi-Chang, Chapter 14
Tao Te Ching: An Illustrated Journey Translated by Stephen Mitchell
Tao Te Ching Translated by David Hinton
The Book of Tao: Tao Te Ching - The Tao and Its Characteristics Translated by James Legge
Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices
Taoism: Growth of a Religion By Isabelle Robinet
Zhuangzi (Chuang Tsu), Daoist Scripture: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Quotations, Notes
Zhuangzi: Basic Writings Translated by Burton Watson
Zhuangzi Speaks: The Music of Nature An illustrated comic by Chih-chung Ts'ai
Lifestyle Advice from Wise Persons
"What we cannot see by looking is the evenness of things,
What we cannot hear by listening the rare,
What we cannot seize by grasping is the subtleness that springs
When we try to scrutinize them and compare.
Blended into Unity, above it is not bright,
Below it is not buried in obscurity,
Ceaseless in its action, nameless in its flight,
It returns again to formless immaturity;
The form of formlessness, the shape of the unseen,
Abstruse and indeterminate as shadows on a screen
We meet it front to front and we do not see its face,
We follow it and do not see its back,
But who holds its ancient way
Is the master of to-day,
And its far-away beginning in the olden time can trace,
T'is the thread of Tao that lies
along its track."
- Translated by Isaac Winter Heysinger, 1903, Chapter 14
"We look at it, and see it not; though it is Omnipresent; and we name it
We listen for it, and hear it not, though it is Omniscient; and we name it the Silence.
We feel for it, and touch it not, though it is Omnipotent; and we name it the Concealed.
These three Virtues hath it, yet we cannot describe it as consisting of them;
but, mingling them aright, we apprehend the One.
Above, it shineth not; below, it is not dark.
It moves all continuously, without Expression, returning into Naught.
It is the Form of That which is beyond Form>
It is the Image of the Invisible.
It is Change, and Without Limit.
We confront it, and see not its Face; we pursue it, and its Back is
hidden from us.
Ah! but apply the Tao as in old Time to the work of the present.
Know it as it was known in the Beginning.
Follow fervently the Thread of the Tao."
- Translated by Aleister Crowley, 1918, Chapter 14
"Vous le regardez (le Tao) et vous ne le
voyez pas : on le dit incolore.
Vous l'écoutez et vous ne l'entendez pas: on le dit aphone.
Vous voulez le toucher et vous ne l'atteignez pas: on le dit incorporel.
Ces trois qualités ne peuvent être scrutées à l'aide de la parole.
C'est pourquoi on les confond en une seule.
Sa partie supérieure n'est point éclairée; sa partie inférieure n'est point obscure.
Il est éternel et ne peut être nommé.
Il rentre dans le non-être.
On l'appelle une forme sans forme, une image sans image.
On l'appelle vague, indéterminé.
Si vous allez au-devant de lui, vous ne voyez point sa face; si vous le suivez vous ne voyez point son dos.
C'est en observant le Tao des temps anciens qu'on peut gouverner les existences d'aujourd'hui.
Si l'homme peut connaître l'origine des choses anciennes, on dit qu'il tient le fil du Tao."
- Translated by Stanislas Julien, 1842, Chapter 14
Language Versions of the Tao Te Ching (Daodejing)
Tao Te Ching en Español
Lao Tsé Tao Te Ching Traducido al español por Anton Teplyy
Tao Te Ching Traducido por Stephen Mitchell, versión española
Tao Te Ching Traducido al español por el Padre Carmelo Elorduy
Tao Te Ching en Español
Lao Tzu-The Eternal Tao Te Ching Traducido al español por Yuanxiang Xu y Yongjian Yin
Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices By Mike Garofalo Maduración Duraznos: Estudios y Prácticas Taoístas por Mike Garofalo
Tao Te Ching - Wikisource
Tao Te Ching Traducido al español por William Scott Wilson.
Lao Tzu - Tao Te Ching Traducido al español por Javier Cruz
Tao te king Translated by John C. H. Wu, , versión española
Daodejing Español, Inglés, y Chino Versiones Lingüísticas de la Daodejing
"Se le llama invisible porque mirándole
no se le ve.
Se le llama inaudible porque escuchándole no se le oye.
Se le llama impalpable porque tocándole no se le siente.
Estos tres estados son inescrutables y se confunden en uno solo.
En lo alto no es luminoso, en lo bajo no es oscuro.
Es eterno y no puede ser nombrado, retorna al no-ser de las cosas.
Es la forma sin forma y la imagen sin imagen.
Es lo confuso e inasible.
De frente no ves su rostro, por detrás no ves su espalda.
Quien es fiel al Tao antiguo domina la existencia actual.
Quien conoce el primitivo origen posee la esencia del Tao."
- Translation from Wikisource, 2013, Tao Te Ching, Capítulo 14
"Se mira y no se ve, se llama lo invisible.
Se escucha y no se oye, se llama lo inaudible.
Se toca y no se siente, se llama lo impalpable.
Estos tres no se pueden indagar.
Juntos conforman lo uno.
No tiene claridad por estar arriba.
No tiene oscuridad por estar abajo.
Continuo, sin cesar, no puede ser nombrado.
Se esfuma en lo no manifestado.
Se llama la forma sin forma.
Figura que no tiene figura.
Es lo esquivo e inalcanzable.
Míralo de frente y no verás su rostro y si lo sigues no verás su trasero.
Quien se apega con fuerza al Tao primordial, gobierna la existencia de cada día, y puede adquirir la sabiduría primordial.
Esta es la iniciación en el Tao."
- Translation from Logia Medio Dia, 2015, Capítulo 14
"Lo que se mira pero no puede ser visto está más allá de la
Lo que se escucha pero no puede ser oido está más allá del sonido;
Lo que se agarra pero no puede ser tocado está más allá del alcance;
Son cosas tan profundas que evaden la definición,
Y pasan a ser un misterio.
En su ascenso no hay luz,
En su caida no hay oscuridad,
Un hilo continuo más allá de la descripción,
Perfilando lo que no puede existir,
Su forma es no-forma,
Su imagen es ninguna,
Su nombre es misterio,
Afrontandolo, no tiene rostro,
Siguiendolo, no tiene espalda.
Comprende el pasado, pero atiende el presente;
De este modo se conoce la continuidad del Tao,
El cual es su esencia."
- Translated by Antonio Rivas Gonzálvez, 1998, Tao Te Ching, Capítulo 14
Next Chapter of the Tao Te Ching #15
Previous Chapter of the Tao Te Ching #13
Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching
Tao Te Ching
Commentary, Interpretations, Research Tools, Resources
Tao Te Ching Translations Online. Terebess Asia Online. 124 nicely formatted complete English language translations, on separate webpages, of the Daodejing. Alphabetical index by translators. Each webpage has all 81 chapters of the Tao Te Ching translated into English. An outstanding collection─ the Best on the Internet.
Daodejing by Laozi: Chapters with Chinese characters, seal script, detailed word by word concordance, Pinyin (tone#), German, French and English. This is an outstanding resource for serious students of the Tao Te Ching.
Yellow Bridge Dao De Jing Comparison Table Provides side by side comparisons of translations of the Tao Te Ching by James Legge, D. T. Suzuki, and Dwight Goddard. Chinese characters for each paragraph in the Chapter are on the left; place your cursor over the Chinese characters to see the Hanyu Pinyin (1982) Romanization of the Chinese character and a list of meanings.
Center Tao. Includes a brief commentary on each Chapter. A keyword glossary for each chapter is provided.
Tao Te Ching Commentaries - Google Search
Tao Te Ching in Chinese characters, Hanyu Pinyin (1982) Romanization, English and German by Dr. Hilmar Alquiros.
Translators' Index, Tao Te Ching Translators Sorted Alphabetically by Translator, Links to Books and Online Versions
Taoism and the Tao Te Ching: Bibliography, Resources, Links
Spanish Language Translations of the Tao Te Ching, Daodejing en Español
Concordance to the Daodejing
The Feminine Tao: Early Women Masters East and West A webpage for each chapter provides multiple translations, and Chinese-English translation chart, and seal scripts. An attractive layout makes comparisons between different translations easier to view.
Tao Te Ching in Chinese characters, Wade-Giles (1892) and Hanyu Pinyin (1982) Romanization spellings, English; a word for word translation of the Guodian Laozi Dao De Jing Version. From the Dao is Open website.
Tao Te Ching: The Definitive Edition By Jonathan Star. Translation, commentary and research tools. New York, Jeremy P. Tarcher, Penguin, 2001. Concordance, tables, appendices, 349 pages. A new rendition of the Tao Te Ching is provided, then a verbatim translation with extensive notes. Detailed tables for each verse provide line number, all the Chinese characters, Wade-Giles (1892) Romanization, and a list of meanings for each character. An excellent print reference tool!
Two Visions of the Way: A Study of the Wang Pi and the Ho-Shang Kung Commentaries on the Lao-Tzu. By Professor by Alan Kam-Leung Chan. SUNY Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture. State University of New York Press, 1991. Index, bibliography, glossary, notes, 314 pages. ISBN: 0791404560.
Chinese Reading of the Daodejing Wang Bi's Commentary on the Laozi with Critical Text and Translation. By Professor Rudolf G. Wagner. A SUNY Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture. English and Mandarin Chinese Edition. State University of New York Press; Bilingual edition (October 2003). 540 pages. ISBN: 978-0791451823. Wang Bi (Wang Pi, Fusi), 226-249 CE, Commentary on the Tao Te Ching.
Chapter 14 in the Rambling Taoist Commentaries by Trey Smith. The Rambling Taoists are Trey Smith and Scott Bradley.
Valley Spirit, Gu Shen, Concept, Chapter 6
Tao Te Ching English Translations from Terebess Asia Online. Over 30 translations.
Lao-tzu's Taoteching Translated by Red Pine (Bill Porter). Includes many brief selected commentaries for each Chapter draw from commentaries in the past 2,000 years. Provides a verbatim translation and shows the text in Chinese characters. San Francisco, Mercury House, 1996, Second Edition, 184 pages. An invaluable resource for commentaries.
Reading Lao Tzu: A Companion to the Tao Te Ching with a New Translation By Ha Poong Kim. Xlibris, 2003, 198 pages.
Chapter 14, Line by Line Comparisons of 27 Translations of the Tao Te Ching Compiled by the St. Xenophon Wayist Seminary
Dao De Jing: A Philosophical Translation By Roger T. Ames and David T. Hall. Ballantine, 2003, 256 pages.
Thematic Index to the 81 Chapters of the Tao Te Ching
Lao Tzu: Te-Tao Ching - A New Translation Based on the Recently Discovered Ma-wang-tui Texts (Classics of Ancient China) Translated with and introduction and detailed exposition and commentary by Professor Robert G. Henricks. New York, Ballantine Books, 1992. Includes Chinese characters for each chapter. Bibliography, detailed notes, 282 pages.
Lieh-Tzu: A Taoist Guide to Practical Living. Translated by Eva Wong. Lieh-Tzu was writing around 450 BCE. Boston, Shambhala, 2001. Introduction, 246 pages.
Revealing the Tao Te Ching: In-depth Commentaries on an Ancient Classic. By Hu Huezhi. Edited by Jesse Lee Parker. Seven Star Communications, 2006. 240 pages.
Cloud Hands Blog Mike Garofalo writes about Taoism, Gardening, Taijiquan, Walking, Mysticism, Qigong, and the Eight Ways.
Tao Te Ching: A New Translation and Commentary. By Ellen Chen. Paragon House, 1998. Detailed glossary, index, bibliography, notes, 274 pages.
The Tao and Method: A Reasoned Approach to the Tao Te Ching. By Michael Lafargue. New York, SUNY Press, 1994. 640 pages. Detailed index, bibliography, notes, and tables. An essential research tool.
The Whole Heart of Tao: The Complete Teachings From the Oral Tradition of Lao Tzu. By John Bright-Fey. Crane Hill Publishers, 2006. 376 pages.
Commentary and Notes Regarding Chapter 14 of the Tao Te Ching:
"For effective contrast,
chapter 21 is
best read together with chapter 14. Both chapters call Tao, the illusive
and evasive (hu-huang), i.e., the primal Chaos or Hun-tun described in
chapter 25. In chapter 14, Tao recedes and becomes the nothing; here in
chapter 21 the same illusive and evasive Tao moves forward to become the realm
of beings. There Tao is nameless; here Tao is the name that never goes
away. There Tao is the formless form, the image of nothing; here Tao
contains the seeds and images of all beings that are to be. The dominant
character of Tao in chapter 14 is wu, nothing; in this chapter it is
yu, being or having. The conclusion of chapter 14 traces Tao to the
beginning of old; this chapter arrives at the realm of the many in the now."
- Ellen M. Chen, The Tao Te Ching: A New Translation with Commentary, 1989, p.107
"I saw Master Chang San-Feng
Enter the Sidhe, Fairies by his side,
Crossing over the pond at dawn.
Astonished I was!
On the teahouse table by the pond I later found
Some of his neatly printed notes
Folded in a well worn tome
Of the Tao Te Ching, in Chapter 14.
He had written:
”Even for an Immortal, the Past is the Key.
Grasp at it, but you can’t get it,
Colorless as an invisible crystal web,
Unformed, thin, a conundrum of ideas,
The Grand White Cloud Temple of Possibilities,
Flimsy as a maybe, strong as our hopes,
Silent as eternal Space.
When you meet it, you can’t see its face.
You want to stand for it, but cannot find a place.
It appears and disappears through the moving ten thousand things,
Quick as a wink, elusive as a hummingbird,
Always Now with no other choice,
Moving ground, unstable Plates,
Real as much as Real gets to Be,
This Day has finally come,
Room for something, for the moment, waits
Gone in a flash, assigned a date,
Gulp, swallowed by the future.
Unceasing, continuous, entering and leaving
The vast empty center of the Elixir Field.
Becoming obscurer, fading, falling apart,
A mess of memories in the matrix of brains;
Some of it written, fixed in ink, chiseled in stone,
Most of it long lost in graves of pure grey bones.
Following it you cannot see its back,
Only forms of the formless, stories, tales,
Images of imageless, fictions, myths.
A smattering of forever fixed facts,
Scattered about the homes of fading ghosts.
The twists and turns of millions of tongues
Leaving us languages, our passports to the past.
The future becomes
past, the present becomes past,
Every thing lives, subtracting but seconds for Nowness, in the Past.
The Realms of the Gods, the kingdoms of men,
The Evolutionary Tree with roots a million years long
Intertwined with turtles, dragons, trees, stars and toads;
crickets, coyotes, grasses, tigers, bears, monkeys and men.
Three of Time
An unraveled red Knot of Mystery,
Evading scrutiny in the darkness of days
Eluding capture in the brightness of nights,
In beginnings and endings are only One, the Tao,
Coming from Nowhere, Returning to Nothing.
What dimension of
Does your mind dwell within?
Future, Present or Past
Where is your homeland?
The Past holds the
accomplishments, the created, the glories, and the Great.
The Present is but a thin coat of ice on the Pond of Fate.
The Future is an illusion, a guess, a plethora of possible states.
Recreate the Past
By playing within the Present.
Twisting and reeling one’s silky reality
From the Black Cocoons of the Acts
From which we create our Pasts.
Follow the Ancient Ways.
The Past is the Key.”
- Michael P. Garofalo, Meetings with the Taoist Master Chang Sang-feng
Gushen Grove Notebooks for the Tao Te Ching
This webpage was last modified or updated on
July 30, 2015.
This webpage was first distributed online on February 8, 2011.
Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu, Zhuang Zhou, Master Chuang) 369—286 BCE
The Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing) by Lao Tzu (Laozi) circa 500 BCE