Chapter 53

Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing)
Classic of the Way and Virtue

By Lao Tzu (Laozi)

Compiled by Michael P. Garofalo, Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Center, Gushen Grove Notebooks, Red Bluff, California

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Chapter 53

Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing) by Lao Tzu



Follow the Way, Avoid Shortcuts, Disadvantages of Wealth, Avoid Greed, Work, Be Diligent, Riches, Walking, The Way,
Wealth, Excesses, Gaining Insight, Look at the Facts, Starvation, Weapons, Greed, Tao, Clothing, Alcohol, Eating,
Weeds, Fields, Palaces, Possessions, Corrupt, Extravagance, Appearances, Thieves, Grain, Robbers, Braggarts,
Gluttony, Fashion, Hoarding, Riches, Theft, Brigands, Opulence, Grand Direction, Dao,  益証



"Once started on the great [lax] highway, if I had but little knowledge I should, in walking on a broad way, fear getting off the road.
On the main path (dao), I would avoid the by-paths.
Some dao main path is easy to walk [or drift] on, but safe and easy.
All the same people are fond, men love by-paths, love even small by-paths:
The by-path courts are spick-and-span.
And the fields go untilled, nay, exceedingly weedy.
They're content to let their fields run to weed.
All the while granaries stand quite empty and some exceedingly empty.
They have elegant, in clothes and gown to wear, some furnished with patterns and embroideries,
Some carry sharp weapons, glut themselves with drink and foods enjoyed beyond limit,
And wealth and treasures are accumulated in excess, owning far more than they can handle and use.
This is to [molest] the world towards brigandage, it's robbery as extravagance.
In the end they're splitting with wealth and possessions.
Wealth splits, tends to.
This cannot be a highway of dao (the way)."
-  Translated by Tormond Byrd, Chapter 53 



"My own opinions have caused me to have a limited understanding of the operations of Great Dao.
It's only going astray from what is right that I dread the most.
The way of Great Dao is so smooth, but people prefer to take the most difficult route.
They keep the palaces and courts so clean, yet the fields are overgrown with weeds and the granaries are totally empty.
They wear fashionable clothing, carry sharp weapons to protect their property, eat until they are glutted., and make sure they all have equal amounts of valuable possessions - more than they could possibly use.
Of course there will be thiefs!
Stealing is in opposition to Dao."
-  Translated by Nina Correra, Chapter 53  



The Complete Works of Lao Tzu: Tao Teh Ching & Hua Hu Ching   Translation and elucidation by Hua Ching Ni
The Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu   Translated by Brian Walker
Tao Te Ching  Translated by Arthur Waley
Tao - The Way   Translated by Lionel and and Herbert Giles
Taoism: An Essential Guide   By Eva Wong






"If I interpret the facts correctly,
following the Great Tao carries only this risk;
the Great Tao is very easy, but people prefer the hard way!
Government is divided.
Farms are overgrown.
Granaries are empty.
People wear fancy clothes and carry sharp swords,
tire of food and drink, spend money endlessly,
and are said to be corrupt.
Alas, this is not the Way."
-  Translated by Karl Kromal, Chapter 53 



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"Grant me this: to firmly know
That in walking the great high Way
I shall fear only to deviate
From the high way plain and fair;
For to byways men are lightly drawn.
The court is richly blessed,
But the farm fields are wasting,
And the bins bare of grain;
And courtiers dress in elegance,
Bear well-honed swords,
Gorge on food and drink –
This superflux of wealth and goods
Is the piper’s tune for thieves,
The negation of the Way."
-  Translated by Moss Roberts, Chapter 53 




Revealing the Tao Te Ching: In-Depth Commentaries on an Ancient Classic  By Hu Xuzehi
Tao Te Ching  Annotated translation by Victor Mair  
Reading Lao Tzu: A Companion to the Tao Te Ching with a New Translation  By Ha Poong Kim
The Philosophy of the Daodejing  By Hans-Georg Moeller  

Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices   By Mike Garofalo

Dao De Jing: A Philosophical Translation  By Roger T. Ames and David T. Hall
Tao Te Ching on The Art of Harmony   By Chad Hansen. 
The Way and Its Power: Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching and Its Place in Chinese Thought   By Arthur Waley

Lifestyle Advice from Wise Persons





"If I had the smallest seed of wisdom,
I would walk the Great Way,
And my only fear
would be to lose my way from it.
The Great Way is very smooth and straight;
And yet the people like better the complicated paths.
The courtyard is very clean and well decorated,
(Their cities appear powerful.)
But the fields are very weedy and wild,
And the grain silo's are very empty!
(But they have lost the skill to feed themselves.)
They wear beautiful clothes,
(They value appearances over substance.)
They carry destructive weapons,
They use the tools of destruction to get their needs.)
They over fill themselves with food and drink,
(They indulge themselves in the fruits of the conquered.)
They own more riches than they can use!
(They are greedy.)
They are the messengers of lawlessness!
As for Tao (the Laws of the Universe),
what do they know about it?"
-  Translated by John Trottier, Chapter 53 



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"This little I know:
In moving toward the Grand Direction, the only fear is moving astray.
The Grand Direction is straight forward; still, people go astray.
The court is not filled; the field is not tilled.
Storehouses are empty, but gorgeous gowns are aplenty.
Bearing sharp swords, tired of exquisite boards,
With wealth to the burst, they are bandits at their worst.
This is not Direction."
-  Translated by David H. Li, Chapter 53 




Lieh-Tzu: A Taoist Guide to Practical Living  Translated by Eva Wong
The Daodejing of Laozi   Translated by Philip Ivahoe 
Daoism: A Beginner's Guide   By James Miller
Early Daoist Scriptures  Translated by Stephen Bokencamp
Lifestyle Advice from Wise Persons
Simple Taoism: A Guide to Living in Balance  By Alexander and Annellen Simpkins
Practical Taoism  Translated by Thomas Cleary
Daoism and Chinese Culture  By Livia Kohn






"Let our resolve here be this: to be understanding
To travel upon the great way
(With) only distractions to fear
The great way is so very ordinary
And the people love the detours
The courts are so very well kept
The fields, so very weedy
The granaries, so very empty
The clothes, refined & elaborate
Sharp swords worn at the waist
A glut of drinking & feasting
Wealth & goods kept in heaps
This describes robbery & bombast
Surely not the way at all."
-  Translated by Bradford Hatcher, Chapter 53  



"If I have a grain of wisdom,
I walk along the great Tao
And fear only to stray.
The great Tao is easy indeed,
But the people choose by-paths.
The court is very resplendent;
Very weedy are the fields,
And the granaries very empty.
They wear gaudy clothes,
Carry sharp swords,
Exceed in eating and drinking,
Have riches more than they can use.
Call them robber-braggarts:
They are anti-Tao indeed!"
-  Translated by Herrymoon Maurer, Chapter 53 




Simple Taoism: A Guide to Living in Balance  By Alexander Simkins. 
The Tao of Daily Life: The Mysteries of the Orient Revealed  By Derek Lin. 
Everyday Tao: Living with Balance and Harmony   By Ming-Dao Deng. 
Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices
The Tao of Pooh   By Benjamin Hoff. 
Scholar Warrior: An Introduction to the Tao in Everyday Life  By Ming-Dao Deng. 
Vitality, Energy, Spirit: A Taoist Sourcebook  Translated by Thomas Cleary. 






"Causing one flashes of knowledge to travel the Great Way, only its application demands care.
The Great Way is quite even, yet people prefer byways.
When courts are extremely fastidious, the fields are seriously neglected, and the granaries are very empty;
They wear colorful clothing and carry sharp swords, eat and drink their fill and possess more than enough.
This is called the vanity of thieves; it is not the Way."
-  Translated by Thomas Cleary, Chapter 53



"Let me have sound knowledge and walk on the great way (Tao);
Only I am in fear of deviating.
The great way is very plain and easy,
But the people prefer by-paths.
While the royal palaces are very well kept,
The fields are left weedy
And the granaries empty.
To wear embroidered clothes,
To carry sharp swords,
To be satiated in drink and food,
To be possessed of redundant riches -
This is called encouragement to robbery.
Is it not deviating from Tao?"
-  Translated by Ch'u Ta-Kao, 1904, Chapter 53 




Tao Te Ching  Translated by Stephen Addiss and Stanley Lombardo  

Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching  Translated by John C. Wu

Lao-Tzu and the Tao-Te-Ching  Translated by Livia Kohn

Dao De Jing: The Book of the Way Translated by Moss Roberts






"He who has the least scrap of sense,
Once he has got started on the great highway has nothing to fear
So long as he avoids turnings.
For great highways are safe and easy.
But men love by-paths.
So long as Court is in order
They are content to let their fields run to weed
And their granaries stand empty.
They wear patterns and embroideries,
Carry sharp swords, glut themselves with drink and food,
Have more possessions than they can use.
These are the riotous ways of brigandage; they are not the Highway."
-  Translated by Arthur Waley, 1934, Chapter 53



"If I had any learning
Of a highway wide and fit,
Would I lose it at each turning?
Yet look at people spurning
Natural use of it!
See how fine the palaces
And see how poor the farms,
How bare the peasants' granaries
While gentry wear embroideries
Hiding sharpened arms,
And the more they have the more they seize,
How can there be such men as these
Who never hunger, never thirst,
Yet eat and drink until they burst!
There are other brigands, but these are the worst
Of all the highway's harms."
-  Translated by Witter Bynner, 1944, Chapter 53 




Walking the Way: 81 Zen Encounters with the Tao Te Ching by Robert Meikyo Rosenbaum

The Tao of Zen by Ray Grigg

Lifestyle Advice from Wise Persons

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  

Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices






"If I have knowledge and resolute faith I shall walk in the Great Tao.
If I fear, I can only behave well outwardly.
Great Tao is very straight, But the people love by-roads.
The palace may be well kept, But the fields may be uncultivated And the granaries empty.
The Princes take more land,
At their girdle they carry a sword,
They eat dainty food,
They take possession of much gold.
That is called glorification of robbery.
It is not Tao."
-  Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 53 




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-Dao

Awakening 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 Ziporyn

The Inner Chapters of Chuang Tzu (Zhuangzi)   Translated by A. C. Graham






"If, in some unexpected manner, I

As one endowed with knowledge should appear,

To walk according to the mighty Tao,

T'is only bold display that I should fear;

For plain and simple ways Great Tao suggest,

But people love cross-paths and by-ways best.


The halls and courts are splendid, but the fields

Uncultivated are, the granaries

Empty; to put on ornamented robes,

And keen-edged swords, to gorge with gluttonies,

To pile up wealth; this, robbers' pride I call,

But, of a surety, not Great Tao at all."
-  Translated by Isaac Winter Heysinger, 1903, Chapter 53 




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






"Ah, that I were wise enough to follow the great Tao!
Administration is a great undertaking.
The great Tao is extremely simple, but the people prefer the complex ways.
While the palace is extremely well appointed, the fields may be full of tares, and the granaries may be empty.
To dress grandly, to carry sharp swords, to eat and drink excessively, and to amass great wealth,
this I call stylish theft.
That it is not Tao is certain."
-  Translated by Walter Gorn Old, 1904, Chapter 53







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Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching 






Tao Te Ching
Commentary, Interpretations, Research Tools, Resources
Chapter 53


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 romanization, and a list of meanings for each character.  An excellent reference tool! 

Yellow Bridge Dao De Jing Comparison Table, Chapter 53   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 Pinyin romanization of the Chinese character and a list of meanings. 

Center Tao.  Includes a commentary on each Chapter. 

The Complete Works of Lao Tzu: Tao Teh Ching & Hua Hu Ching  Translation and elucidation by Hua Ching Ni.

Tao Te Ching Commentaries - Google Search 

Translators' Index, Tao Te Ching Translators Sorted Alphabetically by Translator, Links to Books and Online Versions

Tao Te Ching: A Bibliography and Index of Translations on the Web

Chapter 53 in the Rambling Taoist Commentaries by Trey Smith.  The Rambling Taoists are Trey Smith and Scott Bradley. 

The Philosophy of the Daodejing  By Hans-Georg Moeller.  Columbia University Press, 2006, 176 pages.  

Valley Spirit, Gu Shen, Concept, Chapter 6 

Das Tao Te King von Lao Tse  The largest collection of very nicely formatted complete versions of the Tao Te Ching.  The collection includes 209 complete versions in 27 languages, plus 28 Chinese versions.  There are 112 English language versions of the Tao Te Ching available at this website.  A variety of search methods and comparison methods are provided, as well a a detailed index.  Offline as of 25 May 2013. 

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 53, 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.












Laozi, Dao De Jing


Gushen Grove Notebooks for the Tao Te Ching

Research by
Michael P. Garofalo

Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Center, Gushen Grove Notebooks, Red Bluff, California

This webpage was last modified or updated on October 20, 2013. 
This webpage was first distributed online on August 15, 2011.


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