Tao Te Ching #49: “Sages have no fixed mind, they make the minds of the people their mind”

Sages have no fixed mind;
they make the minds of the people their mind:
they improve the good,
and also improve those who are not good;
that virtue is good.
They make sure of the true,
and they make sure of the untrue too;
that virtue is sure.
The relation of sages to the world
is one of concern:
they cloud their minds for the world;
all people pour into their ears and eyes,
and sages render them innocent.

– Thomas Cleary


Sages have no mind of their own
their mind is the mind of the people
to the good they are good
to the bad they are good
until they become good
to the true they are true
to the false they are true
until they become true
in the world sages are withdrawn
with the world they merge their mind
people open their ears and eyes
sages cover theirs up

– Red Pine


The wise maintain no constant mind,
But take as theirs the people’s mind.
“Those minded to do good we take for good,
As we do those not so minded”:
And this obligates their goodness.
“And the trusted I trust,
And I trust the not-to-trust”:
And this obligates their trust.
In the world the wise man stands
All-enfolding, all-accepting—
No longer apart from the world, nor above.
The people lend him their eyes and their ears;
The wise man cradles them like babes.

– Moss Roberts


1 reply »

  1. Thank you for this series! It is helpful, in discerning the original, to have many translations. Do you have the Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English version? Here they have:

    The sage has no mind of his own.
    He is aware of the needs of others.

    I am good to people who are good.
    I am also good to people who are not good.
    Because virtue is goodness.
    I have faith in people who are faithful.
    I also have faith in people who are not faithful.
    Because virtue is faithfulness.

    The sage is shy and humble- to the wold he seems confusing.
    Men look to him and listen.
    He behaves like a little child.

    The great Barbara Tovey, known from her essay on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, also has a share in a translation for which I will look!

    Liked by 1 person

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