Lao Tzu's Dao De Jing Chapters 13-25

Translation and Commentary by Tom Tam


The complete book of the Dao De Jing consists of eighty-one chapters. This book is Master Tam's translation and analysis of chapters 13 thru 25. His translations add more insight into the Dao De Jing and his explanations allow one to understand the Dao in a simple way.

(60 pages)



From Chapter 16

Keep the heart void,

Stay within silence.

The Ten Thousand Things rise and fall,

As we observe the cyclical nature of resurrection.

Spring forth and forward,


Returning and reversed.

All things turn back to their own roots.

Returning to the root is called Silence,

It is called back to Nature.

Back to Nature is called True.

Knowing what is True

is called Brilliance,

Not knowing what is True

brings adversity.


Knowing Truth,

one can endure,


one can be fair.

Fairness brings constancy.

Through constancy comes the Tao of Heaven

The Tao of Heaven springs from the True Tao.

The True Tao lasts forever.

Even when in peril danger is never felt.

From the Chapter 16 Commentary

"Keep the heart void, Stay within silence." Heart in this context relates to the mind. Only when the mind is void, can we be accepting of more of life's changes and know what it is to be carefree. In Taoism, "void" refers to the mind. In Buddhism, it refers to the practice of emptying the mind. There is a philosophical difference. Taoism teaches that silencing the mind can make us more focused, and considerate of others. Many people misunderstand the term "void heart" to mean an empty brain. No one wants to have an empty brain. In fact the heart that is void is a natural heart and one that avoids the pollution that occurs from having a confused mind. When we are born our hearts are pure, but as we live the heart begins to be polluted or is tempted to stray from what is natural. In Chinese philosophy silence is the way to make the heart void.

From Chapter 20

.....Oh! My heart is simple as a fool's.

Oh! It is so confused and blurred!

Everyone looks so bright,

I am the only one who looks placid.

They look so full of life,


I am the one who looks dull


Oh! I am simple,

Like the waves of the sea

drifting silently, aimlessly.

Oh! I am so free,

Ceaselessly going with the wind, anywhere.

From the Chapter 20 Commentary
"Oh! My heart is simple as a fool's. Oh! It is so confused and blurred!" If we want our mind to be free, it must be simple and pure. Why do we become confused? Because the mind has too much stuff inside. How can we be free? In Lao Tzu's view the fool is not harmful, and nobody tries to harm the simple person. Looking at the world, so many troubles are caused by the cleverness of smart people. "Blurred" means not paying attention, feeling relaxed, unfocused, and letting everything develop is nature's way. In our life there is so much happening and so many affairs around us; if we try to pay attention to everything, we severely limit the things we can do. There is a famous Chinese saying which states, "So difficult to be blurred."