執大象,天下往。往而不害,安平太。

1. To him who holds in his hands the Great Image (of the invisible Dao), the whole world repairs. Men resort to him, and receive no hurt, but (find) rest, peace, and the feeling of ease.

樂與餌過客止。道之出口,淡乎其無味,視之不足見,聽之不足聞,用之不足既。

2. Music and dainties will make the passing guest stop (for a time). But though the Dao as it comes from the mouth, seems insipid and has no flavour, though it seems not worth being looked at or listened to, the use of it is inexhaustible.

Legge's Comments

仁德, 'The Attribute of Benevolence.' But there seems little appropriateness in this title. The subject of the chapter is the inexhaustible efficacy of the Dao for the good of the world.

The Great Image (of the invisible Dao) is a name for the Dao in its operation; as in chapters 14 and 41. He who embodies this in his government will be a centre of attraction for all the world. Or the 天下往 may be taken as a predicate of the holder of the Great Image:—'If he go all under heaven teaching the Dao.' Both constructions are maintained by commentators of note. In par. 2 the attraction of the Dao is contrasted with that of ordinary pleasures and gratifications.