Where do we return?
The mysterious virtue
Purpose and instrument
9.1 Fill a cup to its brim and it is easily spilled;
9.2 Temper a sword to its hardest and it is easily broken;
9.3 Amass the greatest treasure and it is easily stolen;
9.4 Claim credit and honour and you easily fall;
9.5 Retire once your purpose is achieved - this is natural.
10.1 Embracing the Way, you become embraced;
10.2 Breathing gently, you become newborn;
10.3 Clearing your mind, you become clear;
10.4 Nurturing your children, you become impartial;
10.5 Opening your heart, you become accepted;
10.6 Accepting the world, you embrace the Way.
10.7 Bearing and nurturing, Creating but not owning, Giving without demanding, This is harmony.
11.1 Thirty spokes meet at a nave; Because of the hole we may use the wheel.
11.2 Clay is moulded into a vessel; Because of the hollow we may use the cup.
11.3 Walls are built around a hearth; Because of the doors we may use the house.
11.4 Thus tools come from what exists, But use from what does not
9.1 To hold a vase filled to the brim, without spilling anything, is impossible; better not to fill it so.
9.2 To keep an over-sharpened blade without its edge becoming blunt, is impossible; better not to sharpen it to this extreme.
9.3 To keep a roomful of precious stones, without any of it becoming misappropriated, is impossible; better not to amass this treasure.
9.4 No extreme can be maintained for a long time. Every height is followed by a decline. Likewise for a man. Whomsoever, having become rich and powerful, takes pride in himself, prepares thereby his own ruin.
9.5 To retire at the height of one's own merit and fame, that is the way of heaven.
10.1 Keep your body and spermatic soul closely united, and ensure that they do not become separated.
10.2 Apply yourself such that the air you breath in, converted into the aerial soul, animates this composite, and keeps it intact as in a new-born baby.
10.3 Withhold yourself from considerations which are too profound, in order not to wear yourself out.
10.4 As for love of the people and anxiety for the state, limit yourself to non-action.
10.5 Let the gates of heaven open and close, without wishing to do something, without interfering.
10.6 Know all, be informed on everything, and for all that remain indifferent, as if you knew nothing.
10.7 Produce, breed, without taking any credit for what has been produced, without exacting a return for your actions, without imposing yourself on those you govern. There you have the formula for transcendent action.
11.1 A wheel is made of thirty perceptible spokes, but it turns due to the imperceptible central axis of the hub.
11.2 Vessels are made of perceptible clay, but it is their imperceptible hollow that is useful.
11.3 The imperceptible holes which make the doors and windows of a house, are its essentials.
11.4 It is the imperceptible that produces effects and results.