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Lao Tzu for Everyone
Students, Scholars,
& Seekers
Peter Gilboy, Ph.D.

A Note

regarding the characters

used in this translation.

Lesson 46

Never Enough


 (自nose +辛 cutting tool*)

guilt, offense, crime


*Said to refer to a criminal marked for life by having his nose cut off.

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Line 2



Line 1

When all are in accord

with the Way,

then fleet-footed horse

are used for their dung.

天tiān  下xià   有yǒu 道tào

  heaven     under        have          way     


却què     走zǒu   馬mǎ   以yǐ  糞fèn

retreat/then   run/swift     horse      use     dung.

Under heaven has the Way,

swift horses retreat for use of dung.

     When the things and people of our world lives out their own way, the purpose of each thing is fulfilled.

. . . . . .

Line 3

Line 2

When all are not

in accord with the Way,

then military horses

multiply in the countryside.

​​​​ 天tiān   下xià    无wú   道tào

 heaven    under       not have      way  

戎róng 馬mǎ    生shēng    於yú   郊jiāo

         military       horse       live/birth         (prep.)    open spaces/suburbs

All under heaven do not have the Way,

military horses birth in open spaces.

      In all of history few leaders have renounced their power, which is to say that few leaders have understood what is enough.


      . . . . . .


Line 3

No offense is

greater than

our seeking more

  罪zuì    莫mò   大dà   於yú    可kě     欲yù

offense/fault  none     great  (prep.)    able     desire.

As for offenses, none is

greater than enabling desire.


        The anxious mind does not pause and question itself as to why it wants more. This is to lack self-knowledge.  


. . . . . 


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Line 5

Line 4

No calamity is greater than

not knowing

what is enough. 

      禍huò     莫mò  大dà  於yú  不bù  知zhī    足zú

  disaster/calamity none   great      (prep)    not    know  foot/enough

As for disaster, none is greater

than not knowing  enough

     Self-inflicted wounds are the most tragic, the most grievous, and the most avoidable. 

​​​​. . . . . .


Line 5

Of our faults,

none brings us

more grief than

our desire for more.

咎jiù   莫mò 憯cǎn  於yú   欲yù    得dé

faults    none      mourn  (prep.)    desire      get

Great overflowing

seems wanting.

      Each person seeks happiness in their own way. The reason why so few find it is unmistakable.

​​​​. . . . . .


Line 6

Line 6

Know what is enough,

and always

have enough.

知zhī   足zú   之zhī    足zú

    know     foot/enough  (poss.)  foot/enough


      恆héng     足zú      矣yǐ

                                  constant     foot/enough  (emphasis/completed action)

Knowing enough’s enough,

constantly enough is completed.


Note #1:  The standard editions preface this line with the adverb 故gù, "therefore."  It is not found in earlier the MWT editions or the Guodian editions, indicating it may be later addition by a scholar or teacher. 

Note #2:  Lao Tzu uses the character 知 “to know” in three different senses. In places 知zhī refers to a “knowing” of facts and gernal information. In other places 知zhī refers a "knowing" that is clever and manipulative. (See Lesson 65).  In other places 知zhī refers to an insight or profound understanding, as in the next lesson where he tells us: 


不bù  出chū 於yú 戶hù 以yǐ   知zhī   天tiān 下xià

There is no need to go outside,

to know the whole world. 

不bù  窺kuī   於yú    牖yǒu  以yú  知zhī   天tiān   道tào

There is no need to peer out the window,

to know heaven’s Way.

 ​​​​. . . . . .


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