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)
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.
-Lao-tzu- (Tao Te Ching, verse 64, interpretation 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,
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.
-Lao-tzu- (Tao Te Ching, verse 63, interpretation 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.
-Lao-tzu- (Tao Te Ching, verse 62, interpretation by Robert Brookes)