Tao Te Ching – Chapter 2

When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.

Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn't possess,
acts but doesn't expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.

Stephen Mitchell (1988)
When all in the world know beauty as beauty,
then ugliness already has arisen.
When all know good as good,
then bad already has arisen.
existence and non-existence give birth to each other,
difficult and easy complement each other,
long and short contrast with each other,
high and low rely on each other,
sound and voice harmonize with each other,
front and back follow each other.
the sage manages his affairs by non-action and spreads his teachings without words.
All things arise, he does not reject them.
He produces, but does not possess;
acts, but does not take credit;
achieves merit, but does not dwell [on it].
Because he does not dwell on it, it does not leave him.

Yi Wu (1989)
When all under heaven know beauty (mei) as beauty,
There is then ugliness (o);
When all know the good (shan) good,
There is then the not good (pu shan).
Therefore being and non-being give rise to each other,
The difficult and easy complement each other,
The long and short shape each other,
The high and low lean on each other,
Voices and instruments harmonize with one another,
The front and rear follow upon each other.
Therefore the sage manages affairs without action,
Carries out (hsing) teaching without speech (yen).
Ten thousand things arise and he does not initiate them,
They come to be and he claims no possession (yu) of them,
He works (wei) without holding on,
Accomplishes (ch'eng) without claiming merit.
Because he does not claim merit,
His merit does not go away.

Ellen Marie Chen (1989)
Recognize beauty and ugliness is born.
Recognize good and evil is born.
Is and Isn't produce each other. Hard depends on easy, Long is tested by short,
High is determined by low, Sound is harmonized by voice, After is followed by before.
Therefore the sage is devoted to non action, Moves without teaching,
Creates ten thousand things without instruction, Lives but does not own, Acts but does not presume,
Accomplishes without taking credit. When no credit is taken, Accomplishment endures.

Stephen Addiss & Stanley Lombardo (1993)
 It is because every one under Heaven recognizes beauty as beauty,
That the idea of ugliness exists.
And equally if every one recognized virtue as virtue,
this would merely create fresh conceptions of wickedness.
For truly, Being and Not-being grow out of one another;
Difficult and easy complete one another.
Long and short test one another;
High and low determine one another.
Pitch and mode give harmony to one another.
Front and back give sequence to one another.
Therefore the Sage relies on actionless activity,
Carries on wordless teaching,
But the myriad creatures are worked upon by him;
He does not disown them.
He rears them, but does not lay claim to them,
Controls them, but does not lean upon them,
Achieves his aim, but does not call attention to what he does;
And for the very reason that he does not call attention to what he does
He is not ejected from fruition of what he has done.

Arthur Waley (1934)
Everyone recognizes beauty
only because of ugliness
Everyone recognizes virtue
only because of sin

Life and death are born together
Difficult and easy
Long and short
High and low --
all these exist together
arrive together
Sound and silence blend together
Before and after

The Sage acts without action
and teaches without talking
All things flourish around him
and he does not refuse any one of them
He gives but not to receive
He works but not for reward
He completes but not for results
He does nothing for himself in this passing world
so nothing he does ever passes

Jonathan Starr (2001)
Under heaven all can see beauty as beauty only because there is ugliness.
All can know good as good only because there is evil.

Therefore having and not having arise together.
Difficult and easy complement each other.
Long and short contrast each other:
High and low rest upon each other;
Voice and sound harmonize each other;
Front and back follow one another.

Therefore the sage goes about doing nothing, teaching no-talking.
The ten thousand things rise and fall without cease,
Creating, yet not possessing.
Working, yet not taking credit.
Work is done, then forgotten.
Therefore it lasts forever.

Gia-fu Feng and Jane English (1989)