The Way of Life
according to Lao Tzu

This is an excerpt from The Way of Life, according to Lao Tzu, translated by Witter Bynner. This book of 81 stanzas contains deep wisdom and clear insight.

Copyright (c) 1944 by Witter Bynner.

Stanza One
Existence is beyond the power of words
To define:
Terms may be used
But are none of them absolute.
In the beginning of heaven and earth there were no words,
Words came out of the womb of matter;
And whether a man dispassionately
Sees to the core of life
Or passionately
Sees the surface,
The core and the surface
Are essentially the same,
Words making them seem different
Only to express appearance.
If name be needed, wonder names them both:
From wonder into wonder
Existence opens.

Stanza Eighteen
When people lost sight of the way to live
Came codes of love and honesty,
Learning came, charity came,
Hypocrisy took charge;
When differences weakened family ties
Came benevolent fathers and dutiful sons;
And when lands were disrupted and misgoverned
Came ministers commended as loyal.