Chapter 55

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 55

Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing) by Lao Tzu



Invincibility, Mysterious Virtue, Safety, Male, Female, Harmony, Virtue, Vitality, Newborn Child, Useless Arts, Snakes, Birds,
Sexual Vitality, Dao, Natural Path, Accept Aging, Conserve Energy, Breathing, Infant's Energy, Chi, Death, Decay, Harmony,
Bones, Muscles, Sexual Erection, Follow the Tao, Misusing Strength, Qi, Eternal, Enlightened, Intercourse, Mating,
Procreation, Erection, Energy, Enhancing, Longevity, Heart, Sign of the Mysterious,    玄符  



"Whoever is filled with Virtue
is like a new-born child.
Wasps and scorpions will not sting it;
snakes and serpents will not bite it;
wild animals will not attack it;
birds of prey will not swoop down on it.
Its bones are soft, its muscles weak,
and yet its grip is firm.
It does not know of male and female union
and yet its organ stirs;
its vital energy is at its height.
It cries throughout the day
and yet is never hoarse;
its harmony is at its height.
To know harmony is to know the eternal.
To know the eternal is to know enlightenment.
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   



"He who possesses Virtue in abundance is like a newly born infant.
Poisonous insects will not sting him;
Wild beasts will not seize him;
Birds of prey will not attack him.
His bones are soft, his muscles weak, but his grasp is strong.
He has not experienced the union of male and female,
And yet is fully virile:
His essence is complete.
He can cry all day without getting hoarse.
This is harmony at its height.
Knowing harmony is to know what is eternal.
Knowing what is eternal is to be enlightened.
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 



"He who contains virtue in abundance resembles a newborn child
wasps don't sting him beasts don't claw him
birds of prey don't carry him off
his bones are weak and his tendons are soft and yet his grip is firm
he hasn't known the union of sexes and yet his penis is stiff so full of essence is he
he cries all day yet ever gets hoarse
so full of breath is he who knows how to breath
endures who knows how to endure is wise
who lengthens his life tempts luck
who breathes with his will is strong
but virility means old age this isn't the Way
what isn't the Way ends early"
-  Translated by Bill Porter (Red Pine), 1996, Chapter 55   




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. 






"One who is filled with goodness is like a freshly-born infant.
Wasps, scorpions and snakes will not bite her.
Wild beasts will not attack her, nor will birds of prey pounce on her.
Her bones may be fragile and her skin soft,
But her grasp is firm.
She does not recognize the union of male and female
For she knows it only as an undivided whole.
This is the essence of perfection.
She can how All day and not get hoarse.
This is perfect harmony.
Knowing harmony is faithfulness.
Knowing faithfulness is salvation.
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   



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"One who possesses true virtue
Is like a new-born infant.
Poisonous insects won’t sting it.
Savage creatures won’t bite it.
Birds of prey won’t claw it.
Though its bones are weak,
And its muscles feeble,
Its grip is still strong.
Though it doesn’t know about sexual union
Its sexual parts are already active,
This is because it has perfect vitality.
It cries all day without becoming hoarse,
This is because it’s in perfect harmony.
To know this harmony is called the constant.
To know the constant is called enlightenment.
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 




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





"The one who has virtue in its fullness
Is like a newborn babe.
Hornets and snakes do not sting him.
Savage beasts don't attack him.
Birds of prey don't pounce on him.
His bones are soft and his muscles weak
But his grasp is firm.
He knows nothing yet of mating
But his organ stirs
For his vigor is at its height.
He will cry all day
But his voice will remain loud.
For his harmony is at its height.
If you know harmony you know what is constant.
If you know what is constant you are enlightened.
If your mind forces your breath you misuse your strength.
You misuse your strength.
What expands too much is bound to collapse.
This is not the way of Tao.
What goes against Tao soon declines."
-  Translated by Agnieszka Solska, 2005, Chapter 55 



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"Who holds within the fullest power
To a newborn may compare,
Which no insects stings,
No wild beast seizes,
No taloned bird snatches.
Though soft-boned and weak-limbed, its grip is firm.
Before it ever knows of intercourse,
Its standing phallus knows its full life force.
It cries all day without a loss of voice,
A sign of its perfect balance.
Knowing balance means constant norm;
Knowing the norm means inner vision;
Enhancing life means good fortune;
Mind controlling spirit means inner strength.
“Beware old age in pride of manly might,”
For that means working against the Way.
“Work against the Way, die before your day.”"
-  Translated by Moss Roberts, Chapter 55 



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






"One who possesses the fullness of De can be compared to a newborn baby.
Bees, scorpions and poisonous snakes will not sting him.
Hunting birds and ferocious animals will not grab him.
His bones are weak, his muscles are soft, yet he can grasp objects with great strength.
He has no knowledge of sexual intercourse, yet his penis becomes enlarged: so extreme is his life force.
He can yell all day, yet he doesn't get hoarse.
There is ultimate harmony in his expressiveness.
This harmony of expressiveness is said to be constant;
Knowing this harmony is said to be obvious.
Increasing life is said to be lucky.
Using the mind to control the natural energy of life is said to show strength.
A living creature who who pretends to be stronger than they are will quickly age.
This may be described as one who doesn't follow Dao.
Don't follow Dao and you'll come to an early end."
-  Translated by Nina Correa, 2005, Chapter 55   



"He who has in himself abundantly the attributes (of the Tao) is like an infant.
Poisonous insects will not sting him; fierce beasts will not seize him; birds of prey will not strike him. (The infant's) bones are weak and its sinews soft, yet its grasp is firm.
It knows not yet the union of male and female, and yet its virile member may be excited;
showing the perfection of its physical essence.
All day long it will cry without its throat becoming hoarse; showing the harmony (in its constitution).
To him by whom this harmony is known, the secret of the unchanging Tao is shown,
And in the knowledge wisdom finds its throne.
All life-increasing arts to evil turn;
Where the mind makes the vital breath to burn,
False is the strength, and o'er it we should mourn.
When things have become strong, they then become old, which may be said to be contrary to the Tao.
Whatever is contrary to the Tao soon ends." 
-  Translated by Andre Gauthier, Chapter 55   




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






"He whom life fulfills,
Though he remains a child,
Is immune to the poisonous sting
Of insects, to the ravening
Of wild beasts or to vultures' bills.
He needs no more bone or muscle than a baby's for sure hold.
Without thought of joined organs, he is gender
Which grows firm, unfaltering.
Though his voice should cry out at full pitch all day, it would not rasp but would stay tender
Through the perfect balancing
Of a man at endless ease with everything
Because of the true life that he has led.
To try for more than this bodes ill.
It is said, 'there's a way where there's a will;'
But let life ripen and then fall.
Will is not the way at all:
Deny the way of life and you are dead."
-  Translated by Witter Bynner, Chapter 55 



"He who embodies the fullness of integrity is like a ruddy infant.
Wasps, spiders, scorpions, and snakes will not sting or bite him;
Rapacious birds and fierce beasts will not seize him.
His bones are weak and his sinews soft, yet his grip is tight.
He knows not the joining of male and female, yet his penis is aroused.
His essence has reached a peak.
He screams the whole day without becoming hoarse;
His harmony has reached perfection.
Harmony implies constancy;
Constancy requires insight.
Striving to increase one's life is ominous;
To control the vital breath with one's mind entails force.
Something that grows old while still in its prime is said to be not in accord with the Way;
Not being in accord with the Way leads to an early demise."
-  Translated by Victor H. Mair, Chapter 55




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






"Measure the fullness of one's virtue against an infants:
Neither scorpion nor snake will attack it.
Nor does the tiger maul it.
Nor do the birds of prey clutch it.
Its bones and sinews soft,
Yet its grip is firm.
It does not know the union of male and female,
Yet its reproductive organ is fully formed:
Its essence is whole.
It can cry all day without getting hoarse;
This is total harmony.
To know harmony is constancy.
To know constancy is enlightening.
That which is beneficial to life is auspicious.
To direct ch'i by heart is steadfastness.
Things mature and then decay.
This is contra-Tao.
That which runs counter to the Tao is soon finished."
-  Translated by Tam Gibbs, Chapter 55 



"He who is endowed with ample virtue may be compared to an infant.
No venomous insects sting him;
Nor fierce beasts seize him;
Nor birds of prey strike him;
His bones are frail, his sinews tender, but his grasp is strong.
He does not know the conjugation of male and female, and yet he has sexual development;
It means he is in the best vitality.
He may cry all day without growing hoarse;
It means that he is in the perfect harmony.
To know this harmony is to approach eternity.
To know eternity is to attain enlightenment.
To increase life is to lead to calamity.
To let the heart exert the breath is to become stark."
-  Translated by Ch'u Ta-Kao, 1904, Chapter 55 




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






"He who has his foundation in Teh is like a little child.
Poisonous insects do not sting him, Wild beasts do not seize him, Birds of prey do not strike at him.
His bones are weak, his muscles soft, Yet he can take hold firmly.
He is ignorant of sex, but is full of vitality.
He will grow to maturity.
All day long he shouts and sings.
He will arrive at a knowledge of harmony.
The knowledge of harmony is called eternal.
The knowledge of eternal things is called clear vision.
Increase of life does not always bring happiness.
The life-force that gives birth to human emotion is strong.
Human emotion comes to full power and then grows old.
It is not Tao.
If it is not Tao, it will quickly perish."
-  Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 55




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






"Who has abundantly the attributes
Of Tao an infant child is like,
Poisonous insects will not sting, wild beasts
Not seize, and birds of prey not strike.

His bones are tender and the sinews weak,
Yet firmly grasp, the sexual
Unconscious sleeps, and yet it still is there,
A perfect spirit physical,
With throat unharmed he cries the whole day long,
Each perfect part is linked with all.

To know this harmony is called eternal;
To know the eternal, this is called
Brightness supernal.

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 




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






"The man who is saturated with Virtue is like a little child.
Scorpions will not sting him, wild beasts will not seize him, nor will birds of prey pluck at him.
His young bones are not hard, neither are his sinews strong, yet his grasp is firm and sure.
He is full of vitality, though unconscious of his sex.
Though he should cry out all day, yet he is never hoarse.
Herein is shown his harmony with Nature.
The knowledge of this harmony is the eternal Tao.
The knowledge of the eternal Tao is illumination.
Habits of excess grow upon a man, and the mind, giving way to the passions, they increase day by day.
And when the passions have reached their climax, they fall.
This is against the nature of Tao.
And what is contrary to Tao soon comes to an end."
-  Translated by Walter Gorn Old, 1904, Chapter 55 





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Tao Te Ching
Commentary, Interpretations, Research Tools, Resources
Chapter 55


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 55   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 55 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 55, 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 23, 2013.   
This webpage was first distributed online on February 2, 2011.


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Ripening Peaches: Daoist Studies and Practices

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Taoist Perspectives: My Reading List


One Old Druid's Final Journey: Notebooks of the Librarian of Gushen Grove

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Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

Index to Cloud Hands and Valley Spirit Websites


Gushen Grove Notebooks for the Tao Te Ching 



Index to Translators of the Tao Te Ching

Thematic Index 1-81  

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




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