When the highest scholars get a whiff of Tao,
they diligently try to walk the Way.
When average scholars hear about Reason,
it seems as though they store away the knowledge, but it perishes.
When lower-class “scholars” get wind of Tao,
they laugh at it and ridicule it.
If they didn’t laugh so hard at it,
it wouldn’t be Tao!
Therefore some things need to be established to speak of it:
To understand Tao, it will seem as if concealed.
To advance in Tao will seem as if to retreat.
To a barbarian Tao will seem flawed.
It’s highest virtue is like the valley,
Deep, pure, and empty, to seem as if in disgrace.
The broadest ethics seem insufficient.
To construct goodness seems as if to steal!
True and genuine nature seems perverse at times – twisted like the Chongquing river.
Generosity has no corner or stopping place.
Grand talents mature slowly.
Loud sounds are infrequently made by voices.
The greatest form is invisible.
Tao is concealed, nameless, and obscure;
Yet man is only made good through Tao and is forgiven and moreover made complete.