24 ways of looking at Dao De Jing 33

Laozi's version


Le Guin's version:

Kinds of power

Knowing other people is intelligence,
knowing yourself is wisdom.
Overcoming others takes strength,
overcoming yourself takes greatness.
Contentment is wealth.

Boldly pushing forward takes resolution.
Staying put keeps you in position.

To live till you die
is to live long enough.

Le Guin's commentary:

This chapter sounds like Polonius, incontrovertible but banal, until the last verse, which is a doozer. Here are some other versions of the last six words, Si er bu wang she zhou:

Carus (word for word): "[Who] dies / yet / not / perishes, / the-one / is-long-lived [immortal]."

Carus's free translation: "One who may die but does not perish has life everlasting."

Waley: "When one dies one is not lost: there is no other immortality."

Feng-English: "To die but not to perish is to be eternally present."

Henricks: "To die but not be forgotten -- that's [true] long life."

Lafargue: "One who dies and does not perish is truly long-lived."

Gibbs-Cheng: "One who dies yet still remains has longevity."

Lau: "He who lives out his days has had a long life."

Under J.P. Seaton's guidance I finally came to feel that I had a handle on the line, and that Lau's rendition was the most useful. One thing is certain, Lao Tzu is not saying that immortality or even longevity is desirable. The religion called Taoism has spent much imagination on ways to prolong life interminably or gain immortality, and the mythologized Lao Tzu was supposed to have run Methuselah a close race; but the Lao Tzu who wrote this had no truck with such notions.

Stan Rosenthal's translation:

Without force: without perishing

Knowledge frequently results
from knowing others,
but the man who is awakened,
has seen the uncarved block.

Others might be mastered by force,
but to master one's self
requires the Tao.
He who has many material things,
may be described as rich,
but he who knows he has enough,
and is at one with the Tao,
might have enough of material things,
and have self-being as well.

Will-power may bring perseverance;
but to have tranquility is to endure,
being protected for all his days.

He whose ideas remain in the world,
is present for all time.

Charles Muller's translation:

If you understand others you are smart.
If you understand yourself you are illuminated.
If you overcome others you are powerful.
If you overcome yourself you have strength.
If you know how to be satisfied you are rich.
If you can act with vigor, you have a will.
If you don't lose your objectives you can be long-lasting.

If you die without loss, you are eternal.

Bram den Hond's translation:

Anderen begrijpen is goed op de hoogte zijn;
Je zelf begrijpen is wijs zijn.
Anderen veroveren betekent kracht hebben;
Je zelf veroveren betekent sterk zijn.

Weten wanneer je genoeg hebt, betekent dat je rijk bent.
Volharding is een teken van wilskracht.
Voorwaarts gaan met kracht betekent dat je ambitie hebt.
Je plaats niet verliezen betekent dat je er lang blijft.
Sterven, maar niet worden vergeten -
Dat is [waarlijk] lang leven.

Peter Merel's "interpolation":


Who understands the world is learned;
Who understands the self is enlightened.
Who conquers the world has strength;
Who conquers the self has harmony.
Who is determined has purpose;
Who is contented has wealth.
Who defends his home may long endure;
Who surrenders his home may long survive it.

Chad Hansen's translation:

Achievable goals

Those who know the human are wise.
The self-knowing are discerning.
Those who trimuph among the human have power.
The self-triumphing are coercive.
Those who know sufficiency are affluent.
Those who coercively act have will.
Those who don't lose their 'that-which' are long-lasting
Those who die and don't disappear are long-lived.

Raymond B. Blakney's translation:

Wisdom and Enlightenment ...

It is wisdom to know others;
It is enlightenment to know one's self.

The conqueror of men is powerful;
The master of himself is strong.

It is wealth to be content;
It is willful to force one's way on others.

Endurance is to keep one's place;
Long life it is to die and not perish.

Jim Clatfelter's Headless Tao:

It may be said that you are wise
To see yourself as others do
But you are wiser still to see
From your own central point of view

Then you see you have it all
These riches that are always here
Belong to you completely
Because your vision is so clear

Jim Clatfelter's commentary:

What does it mean to see yourself as others see you? Others see you from a distance. They see you as an object, as a human being, a thing in the world. But at no distance at all, you see yourself as pure openness, total clarity. From this vacant center, you see that you contain the ever changing world. You are rich and clear and wise. Would you trade this for being a limited, perishable human being?

Antonio Rivas's translation:


El que conoce a los hombres es sabio;
El que se conoce a si mismo está iluminado.
El que vence a los otros es fuerte;
El que se vence a sí mismo es poderoso.
El que se contenta con lo que tiene es rico;
El que obra con determinación tiene voluntad.
El que es capaz de mantener su posición resistirá mucho tiempo;
El que es capaz de mantener su influencia vivirá después de su muerte.

J.H. McDonald's translation:

Those who know others are intelligent;
those who know themselves are truly wise.
Those who master others are strong;
those who master themselves have true power.
Those who know they have enough are truly wealthy.

Those who persist will reach their goal.

Those who keep their course have a strong will.
Those who embrace death will not perish,
     but have life everlasting.

James Legge's translation:

He who knows other men is discerning; he who knows himself is intelligent. He who overcomes others is strong; he who overcomes himself is mighty. He who is satisfied with his lot is rich; he who goes on acting with energy has a (firm) will.

He who does not fail in the requirements of his position, continues long; he who dies and yet does not perish, has longevity.

Witter Bynner's version:

Knowledge studies others,
     Wisdom is self-known;
Muscle masters brothers,
     Self-mastery is bone;
Content need never borrow,
     Ambition wanders blind;
Vitality cleaves to the marrow,
     Leaving death behind.

Ron Hogan's adaptation:

Knowing others makes you smart,
     but knowing yourself makes you wise.
To rule others, you must be powerful,
     but to rule yourself, you must be strong.

If you have only what you need,
     you have true wealth.

If you never give up,
     you will find a way.

If you stay true to yourself,
     you will never be lost.

If you live your entire life,
     you've really lived.

Translator unknown:

Those who know others are intelligent.
Those who know themselves have insight.
Those who master others have force.
Those who master themselves have strength.
Those who know how much is enough are wealthy.
Those who persevere have direction.
Those who maintain their position endure.
And those who die but do not perish, live on.

Sanderson Beck's translation:

Those who know others are wise.
Those who know themselves are enlightened.
Those who overcome others require force.
Those who overcome themselves need strength.
Those who are content are wealthy.
Those who persevere have will power.
Those who do not lose their center endure.
Those who die but maintain their power live eternally.

T. Byrne's translation:

He who knows others is learned;
but he who knows himself is wise, nay, in the end it could be illumined.
He who conquers others has strength of muscles;
To conquer oneself is hard. So he who conquers himself is strong.
To be content with what one has is to feel rich; so let the contented feel rich.
Next: He who works, may eventually succeed. And he one who acts with vigour has will.
Even he who works through sordid violence can get his way - The determined one has strength of will.
What stays in its place can endure. He who doesn't lose his centre can last quite long, he who hardly loses his place (with such as dao).
The one ho dies but doesn't really perish enjoys long life. He who dies yet (his power) remains has long life. When such a one dies he should hardly be thought of as [too] lost; there's no other longevity [than long life].

The GNL (GNL's Not Lao) version:


Who understands the world is learned;
Who understands the self is gentle.
Who conquers the world has strength;
Who conquers the self has harmony.
Who is determined has purpose;
Who is contented has wealth.
Who defends his home may long endure;
Who surrenders his home may long survive it.

Aleister Crowley's translation:

The discrimination (viveka) of Teh.

  1. He who understandeth others understandeth Two; but he who understandeth himself understandeth One. He who conquereth others is strong; but he who conquereth himself is stronger yet. [For the same reason as in the first sentence.] Contentment is riches; and continuous action [equable and carefree] is Will.
  2. He that adapteth himself perfectly to his environment, continueth for long; he who dieth without dying, liveth for ever. [The last paragraph refers once more to a certain secret practice taught by the O.T.O. See, in particular, the Book of Lies.]

C. Ganson's translation:

One who knows others is wise;
one who knows himself is wisest.
One who conquers others is strong;
one who conquers himself is strongest.

To be content is to be wealthy.
To be dedicated is to be strong.
To be genuine is to endure.
To die and be remembered is to have immortality.

T. McCarroll's translation:

Knowing others is to be clever.
Knowing yourself is to be enlightened.
Overcoming others requires force.
Overcoming yourself requires strength.

To know that you have enough is to be rich.
Push through and you may get your way,
but return home and you will endure.
Live out your days and you have had a long life.

Rudolf Bachofen's translation:

Echtes Gebildetsein überwindet den Tod

Klug ist, wer andere durchschaut,
weise, wer sich selbst durchschaut.

Kraft beweist, wer andre zwingt,
Art jedoch, wer sich selbst bezwingt.

Willen hat, wer Herr seines Tuns ist,
Reichtum aber, wer zufrieden bleibt.

Standhaft ist, wer an seinem Platz verharrt,
wahrhaft lebt, wer im Tod besteht.

An anonymous translation in IALA Interlingua:

Le saper de alteres es intelligentia;
Le saper de se mesme es ver sagessa.
Le maestrar de alteres es fortia;
Le maestrar de se mesme es ver poter.

Si on realisa que on ha bastante,
on es vermente ric.
Si on resta in le centro
e imbracia le morte con su corde integre,
on durara pro sempre.

I have found the Chinese text with hyperlinked character definitions very useful indeed.