Dao de jing, by Laozi

A lot of it is strange and obscure, but there are some very striking passages. This is the translation by Robert Brookes. Good reading for a reminder of humility.

The physical path cannot be the eternal way, just as the spoken word cannot be the eternal truth.

The good person is the bad person’s teacher, and the bad person is the good person’s lesson.

The wise person lives without effort in his daily life. He practices a wordless doctrine. Good and bad come to him and he refuses neither.

Act without contrivance, and everything will be harmonious.

The greatest leader is unknown to the people, a good leader is known and beloved, an adequate leader is treated with respect, a poor leader is treated with disdain.

Only when intelligence and cleverness appear is there a need for pretense.

Forsake academic knowledge, relinquish propriety and the people will lose their anxieties. Disavow cunning, renounce greed and there will be no theft. These lessons are superficial, and could go on forever. Even then they would still not be sufficient. One need only rely upon this: Manifest simplicity, like an undyed silk.

Be righteous and you will not be distinguished, boast of your abilities and you will not have merit, be conceited and you will not endure. People who act in such ways are likely to be detested, and their path will be burdensome.

The adept traveler leaves no tracks, the adept speaker reveals no opportunity for reproach.

Those who know others have wisdom, but those who know themselves have enlightenment.

Those with excessive desires incur great cost. Those who guard wealth surely suffer great loss. To avoid disappointment, know what is sufficient.

There is no greater misfortune than not knowing what is enough. There is no greater fault than the desire to possess.

Therefore the wise person is sharp and yet does not injure, is pointed but does not penetrate, is true to the path but does not bully, is bright but does not blind.

He who possesses virtue keeps his promises. He who does not possess virtue insists on payment.