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


English and Chinese (Wade-Giles) Terms:  Kings or Rulers (wo), Follow the Way, Little or Small (chieh), Natural (jan), Avoid Shortcuts, Knowledge or Understanding (chih), Walk or Travel (hsing), Great (ta), Disadvantages of Wealth, Act (shih), Frear or Dread (wei), Excess (shên), Level or Smooth (yi), Like or Prefer (hao), Side Roads or By Paths (ching), Avoid Greed, Splendid (ch'u), Field (t'ien), Work, Be Diligent, Weeds (wu), Riches, Granaries (ts'ang), Empty or Vacant (hsü), Walking, Clothes (fu), The Way, Elegant (wên), Gown (ts'ai), Wealth, Carry (tai), Fine or Sharp (li), Gaining Insight, Weapon or Sword (chien), Look at the Facts, Starvation, Greed, Tao, Alcohol or Drinks (yin), Eating or Food (shih), Palaces, Possessions or Goods (huo), Corrupt, Extravagance, Appearances, Thieves or Robbers (tao), Braggarts, Gluttony, Fashion, Hoarding, Riches, Theft, Brigands, Opulence, Pride (k'ua), Grand Direction, Dao,  益証  

Términos en Español:  Siga el Camino, Evite Atajos, Desventajas de la Riqueza, Trabajo, Diligente, Andar, Camino, Riqueza, Excesos, Hambre, Armas, Codicia, Ropa, Alcohol, Comer, Campos, Palacios, Posesiones, Corruptos, Extravagancia, Apariciones, Ladrones, Granos, Fanfarronería, Gula, Moda, Acaparamiento, Riqueza, Robo, Bandidos, Opulencia, Reyes, Regla, Poco, Natural, Conocimiento, Caminar, Viajes, Gran Camino, Ley, Exceso, Nivel, Liso, Prefiero, Espléndido, Vacío, Elegante, Vestido, Llevar, Espada, Arma, Orgullo, Multa. 





"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 



Cloud Hands Blog



"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 




-  Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 53



shih wo chieh jan yu chih.
hsing yü ta tao.
wei shih shih wei.
ta tao shên yi erh min hao ching.
chao shê ch'u. 
t'ien shên wu.
ts'ang shên hsü.
fu wên ts'ai. 
tai li chien.
yen yin shih.
ts'ai huo yu yü. 
shih wei tao k'ua.
fei tao yeh tsai.
-  Wade-Giles Romanization, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 53


Audio Version in Chinese of Chapter 53 of the Tao Te Ching


shi wo jie ran you zhi.
xing yu da dao.
wei shi shi wei.
da dao shen yi er min hao jing.
zhao shen chu.
tian shen wu. 
cang shen xu.
fu wen cai. 
dai li jian. 
yan yin shi.
cai huo you yu.
shi wei dao yu.
fei dao ye zai. 
-  Pinyin Romanization, Daodejing, Chapter 53




Tao Te Ching in Chinese characters and English (includes a word by word key) from YellowBridge

Tao Te Ching in Chinese characters, Hanyu Pinyin (1982) 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

Google Translator

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 (1892) 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, Wade-Giles and Pinyin 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. 



"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 


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.




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 



Chapter 53, Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Cloud Hands Blog Post, July 11, 2014

Chapter 53, Dao De Jing, Laozi, Cloud Hands Blog Post, August 15, 2012

English Language Audio-Version, Four Translations of Chapter 53, Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Reading by Michael P. Garofalo, January 1, 2015 





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 



"If I had but little knowledge I should, in walking on a broad way,
Fear getting off the road.
Broad ways are extremely even,
But people are fond of bypaths.
The courts are exceedingly splendid,
While the fields are exceedingly weedy,
And the granaries are exceedingly empty.
Elegant clothes are worn,
Sharp weapons are carried,
Food and drinks are enjoyed beyond limit,
And wealth and treasures are accumulated in excess.
This is robbery and extravagance.
This is indeed not Tao."
-  Translated by Wing-Tsit Chan, 1963, 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 






"If I understood only one thing,
I would want to use it to follow the Tao.
My only fear would be one of pride.
The Tao goes in the level places,
but people prefer to take the short cuts.

If too much time is spent cleaning the house
the land will become neglected and full of weeds,
and the granaries will soon become empty
because there is no one out working the fields.
To wear fancy clothes and ornaments,
to have your fill of food and drink
and to waste all of your money buying possessions
is called the crime of excess.
Oh, how these things go against the way of the Tao!"
-  Translated by John H. McDonald, 1996, 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



"If I were possessed of the slightest knowledge, traveling on the great Way,
My only fear would be to go astray.
The great Way is quite level,
but the people are much enamored of mountain trails.
The court is thoroughly deserted,
The fields are choked with weeds,
The granaries are altogether empty.
Still there are some who wear clothes with fancy designs and brilliant colors,
sharp swords hanging at their sides,
are sated with food,
overflowing with possessions and wealth.
This is called "the brazenness of a bandit."
The brazenness of a bandit is surely not the Way!"
-  Translated by Victor H. Mair, 1990, Chapter 53  





Spanish 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

Lifestyle Advice from Wise Persons   Consejos de Estilo de Vida de Sabios

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





"Quisiera poseer la sabiduría
para poder marchar por el Gran Camino
sin temor a desviarme.
El Gran Camino es llano y recto,
pero la gente elige los senderos tortuosos.
Cuando la corte imperial se adorna de esplendor,
los campos se llenan de malas hierbas
y los graneros quedan vacíos.
Los barones y reyes visten ropas lujosas,
Tienen mas posesiones de las que llegan a usar,
se hartan de bebida y de manjares,
Acumulan tesoros y riquezas en exceso.
Son gobernantes-ladrones.
Robar y ostentar no es seguir al Tao."
-  Translation from Wikisource, 2013, Tao Te Ching, Capítulo 53



"Quisiera poseer la sabiduría
para poder marchar por el gran camino
sin temor a desviarme.
El gran camino es llano
pero la gente ama los senderos.
La corte de todo tiene abundancia
pero los campos están llenos de malas hierbas
y los graneros vacíos.
Vestirse ropas lujosas,
ceñir afiladas espadas,
hartarse de bebida y de manjares,
retener grandes riquezas,
es como el robo;
no es Tao."
-  Spanish Version Online at RatMachines, Tao Te Ching, Capítulo 53







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Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching 






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


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 English Language Corncordance by Gerold Claser.  An excellent English language concordance providing terms, chapter and line references, and the proximal English language text.  No Chinese language characters or Wade-Giles or Pinyin Romanizations.  Based on the 1996 translation by John H. McDonald, available in the public domain on the Internet. 

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 

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 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 

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.







Comments on Chapter 53 by Mike Garofalo:

Breathe Naturally - Don't Overstrain

Breathing techniques and practices are a vital part of both yoga and qigong practices.  The breath is identified or associated in these popular mind-body practices with "energy" or "life force" or "Force" or "Élan vital" as elaborated in descriptions of the concepts of "Chi (Qi)" in Chinese and "Prana" in Sanskrit.  Air and Breath have since ancient times been essential features of both naturalistic and metaphysical explanations of living processes on earth.  Unquestionably, breathing and physiological respiration and moving oxygen through our blood are all essential to maintaining life.  Yoga and Qigong (Neigong) claim that their special breathing practices improve vitality, strengthen the body, improve immune response, calm a troubled mind, and possibly increase longevity. 

Yoga has many unusual breathing practices.  Breath of Fire - rapid short exhales.  Alternate nostril breathing - long slow breaths in through one nostril only.  Reverse abdominal breathing - tighten the abdominals on the inhale, relax the abdominals on the exhale.  Exhaling through the mouth with the throat constricted.  Breath retention for long periods.  Humming like a bee while exhaling.  All of these practices are called "Pranayama" and are taught in many yoga classes.  

Qigong uses breath control and coordination with movements to increase power, circulate and store energy in channels and reservoirs the mind-body realms, quiet the mind, and improve and expand the spirit-mind.  The main breathing technique encouraged is natural abdominal breathing: relax the abdomen on the inhale, slightly tighten the abdomen on the exhale, and don't hold or exaggerate the breathing cycle.  The more unusual and extreme techniques for breath control found in the Raja, Kundalini and Hatha Yogas from India are not found in Chinese Qigong.  More emphasis is placed in Qigong and Tai Chi on gently coordinating breathing with specific movements, and using one's mind to coordinate and direct the use of the inner life force energy (Qi) for health, well being and enlightenment.  Some contemporary Qigong teachers, of course, have borrowed techniques from modern Iyengar Hatha Yoga and use these in their Qigong (Chi Kung) classes.  

Overall, for the purposes of maintaining good health, I recommend breathing through the nose and out through the nose.  Do not smoke tobacco or other drugs, and avoid polluted air.  I wear a mask when working in dusty, smoky, or otherwise polluted air.  I also cover my mouth and nose when breathing in very cold weather.  Get prompt medical advice and support for serious respiratory problems.  Maintain appropriate cardio-vascular conditioning with aerobic activities like brisk long walks.  Just breathe naturally as needed depending on one's exertion levels.  

As for using breathing techniques or mantras or chants to meditate and attain "insight" or "enlightenment" I would recommend instead the daily reading of challenging and wise books and good conversations with intelligent and decent people.  Certainly, if you need to calm the body and quiet the mind because you are upset then then please sit quietly, close your eyes, breathe slowly and listen to some soothing music.  I find little benefit, for my mind or body, in using the unusual esoteric breathing practices of Hatha Yoga.  Likewise, I benefit more in many ways from walking for four miles rather than by staying still in seated meditation for 1.5 hours.  These are just personal preferences - just one fellow's opinions.  

The Taoist classic, the Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu, circa 500 BCE, has some verses that indicate that excessive emphasis upon breathing techniques and methods is not recommended.  The Taoist emphasis is more often placed on being natural, softening, being more pliable and flowing like water, not straining, and not interfering.  In particular, let's look a Chapter 55:

"To increase life means inviting evil.
To control the vital breath with the mind means rigidity.
When things have matured they age.
Such control is contrary to the Way.
What is contrary to the Way will soon end."
-  Translated by Jan J. L. Duyvendak, 1954, Chapter 55 

"It is inauspicious to try to improve on life,
And harmful to regulate breathing by conscious control.
To strive for too much results in exhaustion.
These actions are contrary to Tao.
And what is contrary to Tao soon comes to an early end."
-  Translated by Keith Seddon, Chapter 55 

"All devices for inflaming life, and increasing the vital Breath, by mental effort are evil and factitious.
Things become strong, then age.
This is in discord with the Tao, and what is not at one with the Tao soon cometh to an end."
-  Translated by Aleister Crowley, 1918, Chapter 55 

"To help life along is to bring ill portend;
To use mind (hsin) to direct the life breath (ch'i) is called the strong (ch'iang).
When things are full-grown they become old,
It is called not following the Way (Tao).
Not following the Way one dies early."
-  Translated by Ellen Marie Chen, 2000, Chapter 55 

"Increase of life is blessedness, they say,
They call the heart-directed spirit strength,
But these things reach their fullest growth, at length,
And plunge to swift decay;
We call all this contrary to the Tao,
Whatever is contrary to the Tao
Soon will pass away."
-  Translated by Isaac Winter Heysinger, 1903, Chapter 55 

"Trying to extend one's life-span is dangerous and unnatural.
To manipulate one's energy with the mind is a powerful thing
But whoever possesses such strength invariably grows old and withers.
This is not the way of the Tao.
All those who do not follow the Tao will come to an early end."
-  Translated by John R. Mabry, Chapter 55   

"To speed the growth of life is an omen of disaster;
to control the breath by will-power is to overstrain it;
to grow too much is to decay.
All this is against the Dao
and whatever is against the Dao soon dies."
-  Translated by Tom Chilcott, 2005, Chapter 55   

"Fuelling the vital spirits is called disastrous.
Mind impelling the breath is called violence.
The creature that ignores what exists from of old
Is described as going against the Way.
What goes against the Way
Will come to a swift end."
-  Translated by A. S. Kline, Chapter 55 

The Chinese characters for this passage are:

yi shêng yüeh hsiang. 
hsin shih ch'i yüeh ch'iang.
wu chuang tsê lao.
wei chih pu tao.
pu tao tsao yi.

心            使                   氣                 
hsin             shih                        ch'i                        
heart/mind   directing/controlling   vital energy/breath  

曰              強
yüeh               ch'iang
called/means   overstrain/violent/strong/stark/assertive/aggressive







Laozi, Dao De Jing



Gushen Grove Notebooks for the Tao Te Ching

Research and Indexing by
Michael P. Garofalo

Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Center, Gushen Grove Notebooks, Red Bluff, California
Green Way Research, 2011-2015. 
Indexed and Compiled by Michael P. Garofalo


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This webpage was last modified or updated on December 11, 2014. 
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Index to English Language Translators of the Tao Te Ching

Thematic Index 1-81  

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Concordance to the Daodejing

Recurring Themes (Terms, Concepts, Leimotifs) in the Tao Te Ching

Spanish Language Translations of the Tao Te Ching


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The Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing) by Lao Tzu (Laozi) circa 500 BCE




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Tao Te Ching
 Chapter Number Index

Standard Traditional Chapter Arrangement of the Daodejing
Chapter Order in Wang Bi's Daodejing Commentary in 246 CE
Chart by Mike Garofalo

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40
41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50
51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60
61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70
71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80



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