第一章：道可道，非常道；名可名，非常名。无名，天地之始；有名，万物之母。故常无欲，以观其妙；常有欲，以观其徼。此两者，同出而异名，同谓之玄。玄之又玄，众妙之门。The Way that can be told of is not an Unvarying Way; The names that can be named are not unvarying names. It was from the Nameless that Heaven and Earth sprang; The named is but the mother that rears the ten thousand creatures, each after its kind. Truly, ’Only he that rids himself forever of desire can see the Secret Essences’ ; He that has never rid himself of desire can see only the Outcomes. These two things issued from the same mould, but nevertheless are different in name. This ’ same mould’ we can but call the Mystery, Or rather the ’Darker than any Mystery’, The Doorway whence issued all Secret Essences.
第二章：天下皆知美之为美，斯恶已；皆知善之为善，斯不善已。故有无相生，难易相成，长短相形，高下相倾，音声相和，前后相随。是以圣人处无为之事，行不言之教，万物作焉而不辞，生而不有，为而不恃，功成而弗居。夫唯弗居，是以不去。It is because every one under Heaven recognizes beauty as beauty,that the idea of ugliness exists. And equally if every one recognized virtue as virtue, this would merely create fresh conceptions of wickedness. For truly ’Being and Not-being grow out of one another; Difficult and easy complete one another. Long and short test one another; High and low determine one another. Pitch and mode give harmony to one another. Front and back give sequence to one another’. Therefore the Sage relies on actionless activity, Carries on wordless teaching, But the myriad creatures are worked upon by him; he does not disown them. He rears them, but does not lay claim to them, Controls them, but does not lean upon them, Achieves his aim, but does not call attention to what he does; And for the very reason that he does not call attention to what he does He is not ejected from fruition of what he has done.Because ’action’ can only make one thing high at the expense of making something else low, etc.Literally, ’does not place (i.e.classify) himself as a victor’. cf. MenciusⅡ, Ⅰ;
第三章：不尚贤，使民不争；不贵难得之货，使民不为盗；不见可欲，使民心不乱。是以圣人之治，虚其心，实其腹；弱其志，强其骨。常使民无知无欲，使夫智不敢为也。为无为，则无不治。If we stop looking for ’persons of superior morality’ (hsien) to put in power, there will be no more jealousies among the people. If we cease to set store by products that are hard to get , there will be no more thieves. If the people never see such things as excite desire, their hearts will remain placid and undisturbed. Therefore the Sage rules
By emptying their hearts
And filling their bellies,
Weakening their intelligence
And toughening their sinews
Ever striving to make the people knowledgeless and desireless.Indeed he sees to it that if there be any who have knowledge, they dare not interfere. Yet through his actionless activity all things are duly regulated.Particularly in the sense of ’having ideas of one’s own’.