A great state should flow down-river,
so that it will become the world’s meeting ground.
The weak who are tranquil will outdo the strong,
it is through stillness that one is able to yield.
When the strong yields to the weak,
the strong wins over the weak.
Therefore the weak, being low, wins over the strong.
Sometimes you must yield in order to win,
and sometimes maintaining a low place leads you to win.
The large state stays within its boundaries,
and wants only to care for its people.
The small state stays within its boundaries,
and wants only to serve its people.
Both are able to obtain what they want,
when the strong yields to the weak.
-Lao-tzu- (Tao Te Ching, verse 61, interpretation by Robert Brookes)
Leading a great state is like frying a small fish.
When the leader of the state is in accord with the Tao,
the deceitful will lose their power.
It is not that they lose their power,
but that their power does not harm the people.
It is not that their power does not harm the people,
but that the wise person who governs does not harm the people.
Neither cause harm,
therefore virtue is unified and returns to both.
-Lao-tzu- (Tao Te Ching, verse 60, interpretation by Robert Brookes)
In leading the people or attending to nature,
there is nothing better than moderation.
Only through practicing moderation can you quickly yield.
To quickly yield depends upon your abundance of virtue,
your abundance of virtue means nothing cannot be overcome,
nothing that cannot be overcome means you know no limits,
knowing no limits, you can thereby lead the state.
To lead the state, be its mother, and you will last a long time.
This is called having deep roots, a solid trunk.
Long life, enduring insight.
It is the path.
-Lao-tzu- (Tao Te Ching, verse 59, interpretation by Robert Brookes)
When the government is unobtrusive,
the people live simply.
When the government is interfering,
the people are contentious.
Misfortune is the place that happiness calls home,
just as happiness is the hiding place for misfortune.
Can you perceive when your limit is reached?
Is there not one correct way?
The just will return to the perverse.
The good will return to the sinister.
The people will be lead astray for a long time.
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.
-Lao-tzu- (Tao Te Ching, verse 58, interpretation by Robert Brookes)
Use justice when leading the people,
employ cunning when conducting a war.
But it is through non-action that the world is won over.
How do I know this is so?
Where there are more restrictions and prohibitions,
there is also more poverty.
Where there are many sharp weapons,
there is also more chaos.
Where the people are full of clever schemes,
there are also strange outcomes.
Where there are many laws and edicts,
there is also an abundance of criminals.
Therefore, the wise person:
Practices non-action so that the people are naturally transformed.
Welcomes quietude so that the people will naturally be civilized.
Does not interfere so that the people will naturally be prosperous.
Avoids desires so that the people will naturally choose to live simply.
-Lao-tzu- (Tao Te Ching, verse 57, interpretation by Robert Brookes)
Those who understand the way do not talk about it,
and those who talk about the way do not understand it.
Therefore the wise person:
Closes his mouth,
locks his gates,
tempers his sharpness,
simplifies his problems,
softens his glare.
Unite yourself with the low –
this is the profound harmony.
Where there is no attachment,
there is liberation from aversion
Where there is no profit,
there is liberation from loss,
Where there is no honor,
there is liberation from disgrace.
Therefore this is the most cherished way on earth.
-Lao-tzu- (Tao Te Ching, verse 56, interpretation by Robert Brookes)
One who possesses virtue in its fullness resembles a newborn child.
Poisonous insects will not sting him,
fierce animals will not attack him,
predatory birds will not seize him.
His bones are weak, his muscles are soft,
yet his grasp is strong.
He has not yet experienced the union of man and woman,
yet his genitalia will be erect.
Indeed, his life force is at its peak!
All day he cries but does not become hoarse.
Indeed, his inner harmony is at its height!
To have inner harmony is to be in accord with the eternal,
and to be in accord with the eternal is to be enlightened.
To force the growth of your vitality is ill fated.
To direct the life force with the mind will make you strong,
but creatures that are strong in this way soon are exhausted.
This is not in accord with the Tao,
and that which is not in accord with the Tao soon comes to an end.
-Lao-tzu- (Tao Te Ching, verse 55, interpretation by Robert Brookes)
One who is well planted in the Tao cannot be uprooted,
one who has a firm grasp of the Tao will not let it slip away.
Your descendants will not cease in their honor of you.
Cultivate the Tao in your person and virtue becomes genuine,
cultivate the Tao in your family and virtue will overflow,
cultivate the Tao in your community and virtue will be lasting,
cultivate the Tao in your nation and virtue will be in abundance
cultivate the Tao throughout the world and virtue will be pervasive.
Thus the person must be considered as a person,
the family must be considered as a family,
the community must be considered as a community,
the nation must be considered as a nation,
the world must be considered as a world.
How do I know this is so?
By means of the cultivation of virtue.
-Lao-tzu- (Tao Te Ching, verse 54, interpretation by Robert Brookes)
If I possessed the smallest amount of sense,
I would follow the path of the Tao.
For this reason I fear to stray.
The path of the Tao is very straight,
yet others prefer to be sidetracked.
When the palaces are full of excessive splendor,
the fields are full of weeds and the granaries are empty.
To dress in elegant clothing, carrying fine weapons,
gorging in food with wealth and possessions in abundance –
this is called boasting of thievery.
Indeed, this is not the way of the Tao.
-Lao-tzu- (Tao Te Ching, verse 53, interpretation by Robert Brookes)
The world was given a beginning
by that which could be called the world’s mother.
To know the mother is to know the son,
and in understanding the son you in turn keep close to the mother.
Until the end, you will be free from danger.
Block your senses, close the gates of desire,
and throughout your life you will have no trouble.
Open your mouth, meddle in the affairs of others,
and to the end there will be no saving you.
Perceiving the insignificant is called enlightenment,
abiding to the yielding is called strength,
employing brightness restores your insight,
without surrendering your life to misfortune.
This is called cultivating the eternal Tao.
-Lao-tzu- (Tao Te Ching, verse 52, interpretation by Robert Brookes)