Of old these came to be in possession of the One:
Heaven in virtue of the One is limpid;
Earth in virtue of the One is settled;
Gods in virtue of the One have their potencies;
The valley in virtue of the One is full;
The myriad creatures in virtue of the One are alive;
Lords and princes in virtue of the one become leaders in the empire.
It is the One, that makes these what they are.
Without what makes it limpid heaven might split;
Without what makes it settled earth might sink;
Without what gives'them their potencies gods might spend themselves;
Without what makes it full the valley might run dry;
Without what keeps them alive the myriad creatures might perish;
Without what makes them leaders lords and princes might fall.
Hence the superior must have the inferior as root; the high must have the low as base.
Thus lords and Princes refer to themselves as solitary', 'desolate', and 'hapless'.
This is taking the inferior as root, is it not?
Hence the highest renown is without renown,
Not wishing to be one among many like jade
Nor to be aloof like stone.
Turning back is how the way moves;
Weakness is the means the way employs
The myriad creatures in the world are born from
Something, and Something from Nothing.