The “Tao Te Ching” is an ancient text written by Lao Tzu who was an imperial historian of the Zhou Dynasty, China. The text details correct ways of living in harmony in just 81 concise verses. In the late 19th  Century James Legge (who was a Christian missionary, sinologist and scholar, living in China) translated many ancient texts from Chinese to English, the “Tao Te Ching” being one of them. Although it has been translated, I feel he has kept the importance of how the original text may have been. All I have done is update some of the phrases to readable 21st Century English without the reader needing to research the meanings. Also I have changed the text to non gender specific as I feel we live in an age where male and female have the right to study philosophy to further their evolution, which wasn’t necessarily true 6th Century BC. There are some fundamental changes, e.g. verse 1, from Legge’s original translation.

This book was an inspiration from Dr. Stephen T. Chang who is a Taoist Scholar of the highest class and has written extensively on the subject of Taoism.

Tao Te Ching (The Way and Its Power)
by Lao Tzu, 600-500bc

Translated by J. Legge
Sacred Books of the East 1891

Updated by Martin Hall 2012

(Chapters 1-3)


The Tao that can be trodden is the enduring and unchanging Tao. The name that can be named is the enduring and unchanging name.

Conceived of with having no name, it is the Originator of Heaven and Earth; conceived of; then having a name, it is the Mother of All Things.

Always with one desire we must be found
So the deep mystery we would sound
But if too many desires within us be
Its outer fringe is all that we shall see

Under these two aspects, it is really the same; as development takes place, it receives the different names. Together we call them the Mystery. Where the Mystery is the deepest is the gate of all that is subtle and wonderful.


All in the world know the beauty of the beautiful and in doing this they have the idea of what ugliness is; they all know the skill of the skilful and in doing this they have the idea of what the want of skill is.

So it is that existence and non-existence give birth, the one to the idea of the other; that difficulty and ease produce, the one the idea of the other; that length and shortness fashion out, the one the figure of the other; that the ideas of height and lowness arise from their contrast, the one with the other; that the musical notes and tones become harmonious through their relation, the one with the other, and that being before and behind give the idea of one following another.

Therefore the sages managed affairs without doing anything and conveyed their instruction without the use of speech.

All things spring up and there is not one which declines to show itself; they grow and there is no claim made for their ownership; they go through their processes and there is no expectation of a reward for the results. The work is accomplished and there is no resting in it as an achievement.

The work is done but how no one can see.
T’is this that makes the power not cease to be.


Not to value and employ people of superior ability, is the way to keep them from rivalry among themselves; not to prize articles which are difficult to find, is the way to keep them from becoming thieves; not to show them what is likely to excite their desires, is the way to keep their minds from disorder.

Therefore the sages; in the exercise of their government, empties their minds, fills their bellies, weakens their wills and strengthens their bones.

They constantly try to keep them without knowledge and without desire and where there are those who have knowledge to keep them from presuming to act on it. When there is this abstinence from action, good order is universal.