Article Index


61.1 The great land is a place To which the streams descend; It is the concourse and The female of the world: Quiescent, underneath, It overcomes the male.
61.2 By quietness and by humility The great land then puts down the small And gets it for its own; But small lands too absorb the great By their subservience.
61.3 Thus some lie low, designing conquest's ends; While others lowly are, by nature bent To conquer all the rest.
61.4 The great land's foremost need is to increase The number of its folk; The small land needs above all else to find Its folk more room to work.
61.5 That both be served and each attain its goal The great land should attempt humility.

62.1 Like the gods of the shrine in the home, So the Way and its mystery waits In the world of material things: The good man's treasure, The bad man's refuge.
62.2 Fair wordage is ever for sale; Fair manners are worn like a cloak; But why should there be such waste Of the badness in men?
62.3 On the day of the emperor's crowning, When the three noble dukes are appointed, Better than chaplets of jade Drawn by a team of four horses, Bring the Way as your tribute.
62.4 How used the ancients to honour the Way? Didn't they say that the seeker may find it, And that sinners who find are forgiven? So did they lift up the Way and its Virtue Above everything else in the world.

63.1 Act in repose; Be at rest when you work; Relish unflavoured things.
63.2 Great or small, Frequent or rare, Requite anger with virtue.
63.3 Take hard jobs in hand while they are easy And great affairs too while they are small.
63.4 The troubles of the world Cannot be solved except Before they get too hard. The business of the world Cannot be done except While relatively small.
63.5 The wise man, then, throughout his life Does nothing great yet achieves A greatness of his own.
63.6 Again, a promise lightly made Inspires little confidence; Or often trivial, sure that man Will come to grief.
63.7 Choosing hardship, then, the Wise Man Never meets with hardship all his life.

64.1 A thing that is still easy to hold. Given no omen, it is easy to plan. Soft things are easy to melt. Small particles scatter easily.
64.2 The time to take care is before it is done. Establish order before confusion sets in.
64.3 Tree trunks around which you can reach with your arms were at first only minuscule sprouts. A nine-storied terrace began with a clod. A thousand-mile journey began with a foot put down.
64.4 Doing spoils it, grabbing misses it; So the Wise Man refrains from doing and doesn't spoil anything; He grabs at nothing and so never misses.
64.5 People are constantly spoiling a project when it lacks only a step to completion. To avoid making a mess of it, be as careful of the end as you were of the beginning.
64.6 So the Wise Man wants the unwanted; he sets no high value on anything because it is hard to get. He studies what others neglect and restores to the world what multitudes have passed by. His object is to restore everything in its natural course, but he dares take no steps to that end.

65.1 Those ancients who were skilled in the Way Did not enlighten people by their rule But had them ever held in ignorance:
65.2 The more the folk know what is going on The harder it becomes to govern them. For public knowledge of the government Is such a thief that it will spoil the realm; But when good fortune brings good times to all The land is ruled without publicity.
65.3 To know the difference between these two Involves a standard to be sought and found. To know that standard always, everywhere, Is mystic Virtue, justly known as such;
65.4 Which Virtue is so deep and reaching far, It causes a return, things go back To that prime concord which at first all shared.

66.1 How could the rivers and the seas Become like kings to valleys? Because of skill in lowliness They have become the valley's lords.
66.2 So then to be above the folk, You speak as if you were beneath; And if you wish to be out front, Then act as if you were behind.
66.3 The Wise Man so is up above But is no burden to the folk; His station is ahead of them To see they do not come to harm. The world will gladly help along The Wise Man and will bear no grudge.
66.4 Since he contends not for his own The world will not contend with him.

67.1 Everywhere, they say the Way, our doctrine, Is so very like detested folly; But greatness of its own alone explains Why it should be thus held beyond the pale. If it were only orthodox, long since It would have seemed a small and petty thing!
67.2 I have to keep three treasures well secured: The first, compassion; next, frugality; And third, I say that never would I once Presume that I should be the whole world's chief.
67.3 Given compassion, I can take courage; Given frugality, I can abound; If I can be the world's most humble man, Then I can be its highest instrument.
67.4 Bravery today knows no compassion; Abundance is, without frugality, And eminence without humility: This is the death indeed of all our hope.
67.5 In battle, 'tis compassion wins the day; Defending, 'tis compassion that is firm: Compassion arms the people God would save!

68.1 A skillful soldier is not violent; An able fighter does not rage;
68.2 A mighty conqueror does not give battle; A great commander is a humble man.
68.3 You may call this pacific virtue; Or say that it is mastery of men; Or that it is rising to the measure of God, Or to the stature of the ancients.

69.1 The strategists have a saying: "If I cannot be host, Then let me be guest. But if I dare not advance Even an inch, Then let me retire a foot."
69.2 This is what they call A campaign without a march, Sleeves up but no bare arms, Shooting but no enemies, Or arming without weapons.
69.3 Than helpless enemies, nothing is worse: To them I lose my treasures.
69.4 When opposing enemies meet, The compassionate man is the winner!

70.1 My words are easy just to understand: To live by them is very easy too; Yet it appears that none in all the world Can understand or make them come to life.
70.2 My words have ancestors, my works a prince; Since none know this, unknown I too remain. But honour comes to me when least I'm known:
70.3 The Wise Man, with a jewel in his breast, Goes clad in garments made of shoddy stuff.

71.1 To know that you are ignorant is best; To know what you do not, is a disease; But if you recognize the malady Of mind for what it is, then that is health.
71.2 The Wise Man has indeed a healthy mind; He sees an aberration as it is And for that reason never will be ill.

72.1 If people do not dread your majesty, A greater dread will yet descend on them.
72.2 See then you do not cramp their dwelling place, Or immolate their children or their stock, Nor anger them by your own angry ways.
72.3 It is the Wise Man's way to know himself, And never to reveal his inward thoughts; He loves himself but so, is not set up; He chooses this in preference to that.

73.1 A brave man who dares to, will kill; A brave man who dares not, spares life;
73.2 And from them both come good and ill; "God hates some folks, but who knows why?" The Wise Man hesitates there too:
73.3 God's Way is bound to conquer all But not by strife does it proceed. Not by words does God get answers: He calls them not and all things come. Master plans unfold but slowly,
73.4 Like God's wide net enclosing all: Its mesh is coarse but none are lost.

74.1 The people do not fear at all to die; What's gained therefore by threat'ning them with death?
74.2 If you could always make them fear decease, As if it were a strange event and rare, Who then would dare to take and slaughter them?
74.3 The executioner is always set To slay, but those who substitute for him Are like would-be master carpenters Who try to chop as that skilled craftsman does And nearly always mangle their own hands!

75.1 The people starve because of those Above them, who consume by tax In grain and kind more than their right. For this, the people are in want.
75.2 The people are so hard to rule Because of those who are above them, Whose interference makes distress. For this, they are so hard to rule.
75.3 The people do not fear to die; They too demand to live secure: For this, they do not fear to die. So they, without the means to live, In virtue rise above those men Who value life above its worth.

76.1 Alive, a man is supple, soft; In death, unbending, rigorous.
76.2 All creatures, grass and trees, alive Are plastic but are pliant too, And dead, are friable and dry.
76.3 Unbending rigour is the mate of death, And wielding softness, company of life:
76.4 Unbending soldiers get no victories; The stiffest tree is readiest for the axe.
76.5 The strong and mighty topple from their place; The soft and yielding rise above them all.

77.1 Is not God's Way much like a bow well bent? The upper part has been disturbed, pressed down; The lower part is raised up from its place; The slack is taken up; the slender width Is broader drawn;
77.2 for thus the Way of God Cuts people down when they have had too much, And fills the bowls of those who are in want. But not the way of man will work like this: The people who have not enough are spoiled For tribute to the rich and surfeited.
77.3 Who can benefit the world From stored abundance of his own? He alone who has the Way,
77.4 The Wise Man who can act apart And not depend on others' whims; But not because of his high rank Will he succeed; he does not wish To flaunt superiority.

78.1 Nothing is weaker than water, But when it attacks something hard Or resistant, then nothing withstands it, And nothing will alter its way.
78.2 Everyone knows this, that weakness prevails Over strength and that gentleness conquers The adamant hindrance of men, but that Nobody demonstrates how it is so.
78.3 Because of this the Wise Man says That only one who bears the nations shame Is fit to be its hallowed lord; That only one who takes upon himself The evils of the world may be its king. This is paradox.

79.1 How can you think it is good To settle a grievance too great To ignore, when the settlement Surely evokes other piques?
79.2 The Wise Man therefore will select The left-hand part of contract tallies: He will not put the debt on other men.
79.3 This virtuous man promotes agreement; The vicious man allots the blame.
79.4 "Impartial though the Way of God may be, It always favours good men."

80.1 The ideal land is small Its people very few, Where tools abound Ten times or yet A hundred-fold Beyond their use; Where people die And die again But never emigrate;
80.2 Have boats and carts Which no one rides. Weapons have they And armour too, But none displayed.
80.3 The folk returns To use again The knotted chords. Their meat is sweet; Their clothes adorned, Their homes at peace, Their customs charm.
80.4 And neighbour lands Are juxtaposed So each may hear The barking dogs, The crowing cocks Across the way; Where folks grow old And folks will die And never once Exchange a call.

81.1 As honest words may not sound fine, Fine words may not be honest ones;
81.2 A good man does not argue, and An arguer may not be good!
81.3 The knowers are not learned men And learned men may never know.
81.4 The Wise Man does not hoard his things; Hard-pressed, from serving other men, He has enough and some to spare; But having given all he had, He then is very rich indeed.
81.5 God's Way is gain that works no harm; The Wise Man's way, to do his work Without contending for a crown.