If the people do not fear death,
how can the threat of death frighten them?
Suppose that the people do fear death.
Would a person break the law,
knowing that he would be arrested and put to death?
Would he put himself in that position?
There is one executioner.
If a person were to take his place,
it would be like taking the place of a master wood carver.
There are few that would not injure themselves.
-Lao-tzu- (Tao Te Ching, verse 74, interpretation by Robert Brookes)
Courageousness taken to fearlessness leads to death.
Courageousness not taken to fearlessness leads to survival.
Of these two things, one brings benefit, the other brings harm.
Who knows why nature rejects some and not others?
Even the wise person is unsure of this.
The Tao does not contend,
yet it is victorious.
It does not speak,
yet it gives answers.
It does not ask for anything,
yet it is naturally provided for.
It appears to be slow,
yet its plans are always realized.
Its net is vast and wide,
and nothing passes through.
-Lao-tzu- (Tao Te Ching, verse 73, interpretation by Robert Brookes)
When the people do not fear consequences for their actions,
then great disaster follows.
Do not interfere with their homes,
and do not harass their livelihoods.
When the people are not oppressed they do not grow weary.
Therefore the wise person knows himself but does not parade himself,
he takes care of himself but does not exalt himself.
He rejects the without,
while embracing the within.
-Lao-tzu- (Tao Te Ching, verse 72, interpretation by Robert Brookes)
To know without thinking you know is best,
to not know but think you know leads to disaster.
Truly, naming a condition as a disease
is why you cannot be free of disease.
The wise person is free of disease,
since he recognizes the disease of having disease,
and therefore he is healthy.
-Lao-tzu- (Tao Te Ching, verse 71, interpretation by Robert Brookes)
My teachings are easy to understand,
and easy to put into practice.
However the people do not understand them,
and do not put them into practice.
My teachings have an ancient source,
but the people are ruled by the affairs of the day.
Just as the people do not understand my teachings,
they do not understand me.
Those who understand them are rare.
Those who follow the path are distinguished.
Therefore the wise person clothes himself in rags
to hide the jewel he carries within.
-Lao-tzu- (Tao Te Ching, verse 70, interpretation by Robert Brookes)
Experts in strategy have a saying:
I dare not attack first but instead take the defense.
I dare not advance an inch but instead retreat a foot.
This is called advancing without moving forward,
grasping without showing one’s arms,
confronting without attacking,
taking up weapons with no soldiers.
The greatest misfortune comes from underestimating the opponent.
Make light of your opponent and you risk losing everything of value.
When evenly matched opponents meet in battle,
the one that yields is the one that wins.
-Lao-tzu- (Tao Te Ching, verse 69, interpretation by Robert Brookes)
The skillful soldier is not violent,
the skillful fighter is not angry,
the skillful conqueror is not vengeful.
The skillful leader puts himself below others.
This is called the virtue of non-contending,
the means of employing the abilities of others.
It is known as being in accord with nature’s highest principles.
-Lao-tzu- (Tao Te Ching, verse 68, interpretation by Robert Brookes)
The world calls my teaching great, and like nothing else.
Because it is great it seems useless.
If it seemed useful, how long ago would it have disappeared!
I have three treasures, guard and preserve them:
The first is compassion.
The second is moderation.
The third is humility.
The compassionate have the power to be brave,
the frugal can afford to be generous.
One who does not dare to be first can therefore succeed and endure.
If you renounce compassion but try to be brave;
if you forsake frugality but try to be generous;
if you discard humility but try to lead –
things are sure to end in failure.
Mercy in battle brings victory.
Compassion in defense brings invulnerability.
As this is in accord with nature, nature is the protector.
-Lao-tzu- (Tao Te Ching, verse 67, interpretation by Robert Brookes)
The reason why a great river can be the king of a hundred valleys
is because it is good at staying in the lower position.
Wanting to rule the people,
you must place yourself in a humble position.
Wanting to lead the people,
you must place yourself behind.
The wise person is able to dwell above, and not weigh down the people.
The Wise person is able to stand in front, and not obstruct the people.
Therefore the world is glad to support him and does not tire of it.
Because he does not contend, the world is not able to resist him.
-Lao-tzu- (Tao Te Ching, verse 66, interpretation by Robert Brookes)
In ancient times those who practiced the Way
did not seek to enlighten others, they kept it hidden.
People are hard to lead because of their cleverness.
Therefore those who use cleverness to lead do so to their detriment.
However leading without cleverness brings good fortune.
To recognize these two principles is to know a natural pattern.
To know this natural pattern is to understand a profound virtue.
This profound virtue is deep and far reaching!
All things return to the source,
thus obtaining complete harmony.
-Lao-tzu- (Tao Te Ching, verse 65, interpretation by Robert Brookes)