Daodejing 27


The one who masters walking leaves no footprints.
The one who masters speaking makes no slips of the tongue.
The one who masters counting needs no tally tools to count.
The one who masters shutting the door needs no bolt,
yet it remains shut and none can open it.
The one who masters binding needs neither rope nor twine
but none can unbind what he has bound.

Hence the Sage is good at helping people.
He never abandons anyone.
Thus the Sage is good at helping things.
He never abandons anything.
Call this intrinsic wisdom.

But as the skillful is master of the unskilled
that unskilled becomes as a mirror to the skillful.
So when the unskilled would offer no respect to the skillful,
the skillful do not care for the unskilled.

This appears intelligent but really is great folly.
Such is an essential and profound point.

*Translation by LU Wenlong & Keith Wayne Brown, ©2013.


  1. Like the image from “Journey to the West” aka Monkey King Saga. One of my favorite stories. Enjoy pondering the Daodejing as well, thanks.

    1. Thank you. My writing partner, Wenlong, said that the opening lines are a nice description of the Monkey King’s powers and pointed out how Laozi as well as Buddha appear in the story. As it has been over 30 years since I read it, this is encouraging me to go back and reread it.

      1. Yes definitely worth a read. There is also a film production of the story from Shaw Brothers, which is a lot of fun to watch. Just updated the film post on my site ;p

    1. Thanks for your Twitter question earlier, Andrew. We are hoping that these translations, by staying as “literal” as possible yet still keeping some flow in English, will be more fruitful for engaging Laozi’s notions. 🙂

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