Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – Chapter 22

To yield is to be preserved whole.
To be bent is to become straight.
To be hollow is to be filled.
To be tattered is to be renewed.
To be in want is to possess.
To have plenty is to be confused.

Therefore the Sage embraces the One,
And becomes the model of the world.

He does not reveal himself,
And is therefore luminous.
He does not justify himself,
And is therefore renowned.
He does not boast of himself,
And therefore people give him credit.
He does not pride himself,
And is therefore chief among men.

Is it not indeed true, as the ancients say,
“To yield is to be preserved whole?”
Thus he is preserved and the world does him homage.
(Translated by Yu Tang Lin)


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In this chapter, Lao Tzu further deepens the discussion of ideas explained in chapter two from the perspective of life experiences. The second chapter focuses on its contradictory transformation.

At the beginning of this chapter, Lao Tzu uses six ancient related idioms to describe the ideas contained in the change from negative to positive: conciliation and preservation, bowing and straightening, dissatisfaction and surplus, old and new, loss and possession, having and confusion. Lao Tzu believes that things often arise in antagonistic relations. People should observe both ends of things and see the negative situation from the front. For the negative view, one can still see positive connotations. In fact, positive and negative are not entirely different things but are inter-dependent. Therefore at the end, he concluded that “there is no dispute.”

Before he concludes, he introduces the “four noes principle;” no self-displaying, no self-righteousness, no self-boasting, and no self-conceit. To practice these in our lives help us be in the Tao. They are so crucial that Lao Tzu repeats this principle in chapter 24.

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