People say the Tao is great. This is because the Tao is formless and unlimited, so it cannot be compared against material things. If it could be compared, then no matter how big it is, there will always be something bigger to make it seem small. Thus, the Tao is great precisely because it is incomparable.
I have three treasures in the great Tao. They are precious to me, so I hold on to them and protect them. The first is compassion; the second is the wisdom to conserve resources; the third is the humility to keep me from getting in front of others.
Why compassion? Because love is the source of true courage. Why conservation? Because it helps you do more and go farther. Why not be out in front? Because true leadership means supporting everyone from the back. If you try being courageous without compassion, or being effective without conservation, or leading without the dedication to support… then you will fail and perish.
The only way to win the battle of life is to fight with true courage in defending all that is good. When you do that, Heaven itself will come to your aid — and protect you with its divine and compassionate power!
The audio recordings below are provided for your convenience. Please note that they are extracted from YouTube videos, with visual elements that cannot always be clearly conveyed through words alone.
One well-known “translation” of this chapter presents the three treasures as simplicity, patience, and compassion. That means only one out of three is correct, and the majority of Lao Tzu’s teachings is actually discarded in favor of that particular author’s personal ideas about the Tao.