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.
(from Tao Te Ching, verse 68, translation 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.
(from Tao Te Ching, verse 67, translation 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.
Therefore: 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.
(from Tao Te Ching, verse 66, translation 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.
(from Tao Te Ching, verse 65, translation by Robert Brookes)
That which is at rest is easily held. That which has not yet emerged is easily prevented. That which is fragile is easily shattered. That which is small is easily dispersed.
Deal with things before they emerge, set things in order before there is discord.
The giant tree starts out as the tiniest shoot, the tallest tower starts out as a single brick, the longest journey starts with the first step.
Taking action leads to failure, seizing at things results in their loss. Therefore the wise person does not act and does not fail, he does not grasp and thus loses nothing.
People pursue their affairs, constantly near success, and yet ultimately meet with failure. If you are as careful at the end as at the beginning, your activities will not end in failure.
The wise person seeks freedom from desire and does not treasure precious things. He learns not to hold onto ideas.
He restores what others pass by, and thereby assists in their development naturally. He does not presume to interfere.
(from Tao Te Ching, verse 64, translation by Robert Brookes)
Act without doing. Work without being busy. Savor without tasting. Make great the small and make many the few. Reward malice with kindness.
Plan for difficulty when it is still easy. Achieve the great by attending to the small.
All great difficulties in the world, in the beginning, were easy to solve. All great achievements in the world, in the beginning, seemed inconsequential.
Therefore the wise person never strives for the great, although he accomplishes greatness.
Truly, one who takes commitments lightly rarely keeps his word. When a person takes things lightly there will surely be great difficulty.
Therefore the wise person confronts difficulties with seriousness, and in the end is without problems.
(from Tao Te Ching, verse 63, translation by Robert Brookes)
The Tao is the source of the way things flow. The good person treasures it, the bad person is protected by it. Pleasing words can thus find a market, honorable actions can thus raise a person up.
Why then forsake those who have no goodness?
The emperor selects his three ministers, each preceded by horses and presenting jade disks. But would it not be better to offer this simple teaching? This is the reason why the ancients treasured the Tao.
Did they not say that even criminals who have sought to obtain it are thereby freed?
For this reason, the Tao is the treasure of the world.
(from Tao Te Ching, verse 62, translation by Robert Brookes)
A great state should flow down-river, so that it will become the world’s meeting ground.
The weak who are tranquil will out do 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.
(from Tao Te Ching, verse 61, translation 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.
(from Tao Te Ching, verse 60, translation 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.
(from Tao Te Ching, verse 59, translation by Robert Brookes)