top of page

Lao Tzu for Everyone

Students, Scholars

& Seekers

Peter Gilboy, Ph.D.

Line 1  戴營魄抱一能毋離乎

Line 2  專氣至柔能嬰兒乎

Line 3  脩 除 玄 鑑 能 毋 疵 乎

Line 4  愛 民 栝 國 能 毋 以 知 乎 


​​Line 5  天門啟闔能為雌乎

​Line 6  明白四達能毋以知乎

Line 7  生之畜之生而弗有

Line 8  長而弗宰也是胃玄德




Lao Tzu

asks us

6 Questions





​    A key character in this lesson, 氣qì, is most often translated as “vital energy” or “vital breath.” There is nothing mysterious about it. In everyday language we typically understand  氣qì “vital energy” as what doctors measure as our “vital signs.”


      For Lao Tzu, what we think of as “our 氣qì” is provided to us by none other than the Way. So, it is not a personal 氣qì.  Life force is universal. We didn’t cause our 氣qì to come into being, and we have little say about when our 氣qì departs.




Click on each line number


for Chinese-English interlinear


& commentary



As for watching over your

physical and mental self

and embracing the One,

can you keep them

from coming apart?



In the gathering together of

your 氣qì vital energies

to attain suppleness, are you

able to be like an infant?


In cleansing your

most inner mirror,

can you leave no residue?


In caring for the people

and establishing a nation,

can you do so without scheming?





In opening and closing

heaven's gate, can you

play the feminine part?




With all your insight

into the world, can you

keep from becoming clever?


Give birth to things and raise them,

but without owning them.



Be nurturing, but without

lording over others.

This is known as the

profound power of the Way.





​​​​​​​​​​. . . . . . .





bottom of page