Attain utmost emptiness.
Maintain profound tranquility.
All things are stirring about.
I watch their cycle.
Things flourish, and each returns to its root.
Returning to the root is called tranquility;
This is what is meant by returning to one's basic nature.
Returning to one's basic nature is called constancy.
To understand constancy is called enlightening.
Not to understand constancy is blindly to do unfortunate things.
Lecture: Utmost emptiness, profound tranquility, all things stir about - this is the enactment of Non-action. Things flourish yet in the end each returns to its root, returns to the constancy of its tranquility. "Cycle" is a "return to yang", a phenomenon associated with the yang or active principle*. Those who do not understand constancy are blind to the truth and blunder into doing wrong. Disaster will surely follow.
Understanding constancy, one gains a capacity for forbearance.
If forbearing, one can be just.
If just, one can administer the affairs of state morally.
If one can administer the affairs of state morally,
then he can communicate with heaven.
To communicate with heaven is to be in accord with the Tao.
If in accord with the Tao, one is everlasting,
And even though his body ceases to be, he is not destroyed.
"Forbearance" includes the capacity to be all-encompassing. "Just" means to be fair to all. To "administer the affairs of state morally" means everyone turns to the administrator for leadership. To "communicate with heaven" is to be in communication with all people. Heaven patterns itself after the Tao. The Tao is all-encompassing, profound, everlasting, and so without limits. One who embodies the Tao is never again in danger of losing his self.
* Translator's Note: "Tranquility" is associated with the yin or passive principle. When yin reaches its ultimate it changes to yang in accordance with the cycle of polarity, just as the first moment after noon is night. A. M. changes to P.M.
LAO-TZU. Lao-Tzu: "My words are very easy to understand". Lectures on the Tao Teh Ching by Man-jan Cheng. Translated from the Chinese by Tam C. Gibbs. North Atlantic Books, Richmond, California, 1981, p. 65.