A gentleman of a great nation moves towards those below,
In the world, he is diplomatic.
In the world, he uses a feminine principle.
Females often use stillness to overcome males,
Males use stillness to subjugate females.
Hence, when a great country is overcome by a small country,
It becomes like a small country.
When a small country subjugates a big country
It then becomes like a big country.
Therefore, some overcome to subjugate and some subjugate to overcome.
A great country does not merely desire to domesticate others.
A small country does not merely desire to meddle in the affairs of others.
Both must act out of desire to assume the proper but lowly place.
The way is a mystery to all things.
It’s a good man’s treasure,
It’s a bad man’s refuge.
Good words can be honored in the market place,
Good works can profit a man.
When a man is not good how can he just be discarded?
So, the son of heaven appoints three ministers,
Although they are given a jade ring and a team of four horses,
It is not equal to sitting and comprehending the way.
So why did the ancients prize this way?
Is it not to say that if one seeks one will find?
Then the guilty can be pardoned and hence the world finds its value.
Do without doing,
Work without working,
Taste the tasteless,
See the big as small and the many as few,
Announce criticisms as virtues.
Picture the difficult as easy,
Treat the great as delicate.
The difficult work of the world must be regarded as easy.
The important affairs of the world must be regarded as insignificant.
Therefore, the cultivated man does not go to extremes and achieves greatness in the end.
Hence, he accomplishes great things.
Promises made lightly few will believe,
Many simple things will produce many difficulties.
A man of virtue regards all things as difficult and therefore finds no difficulties.
That which is peaceful is easily maintained,
That which has not been predicted is easily planned.
That which is brittle is easily melted,
That which is tiny is easily scattered.
Act before things come into being,
Manage things before they become disorderly.
A tree that you can get your arms around started from something the size of a hair.
A nine-story tower arose from levels built upon the dust of the earth.
A journey of a thousand miles begins by putting your foot down.
Grasp it and you will lose it,
A cultivated person does not act and is therefore not defeated.
Without grasping he is without a master.
People engaged in situations often fail at small achievements.
Be cautious from beginning to end to avoid failure in such matters.
Therefore, one of insight desires to be without desire.
By not valuing the rare he obtains wealth.
He learns not to learn.
By so doing he returns to everyone that has passed before him.
In order to compliment the world naturally, he dares not to act.
Sages of the past didn’t try to enlighten the people but rather keep them ignorant.
People were difficult to govern when they know too much.
Hence, they governed the country by wisdom as though they were traitors to the country.
When they objected to using knowledge to govern the nation, the country prospered.
Knowing these two is also a model that is called mysterious virtue or profound.
Together these things seem to be reversed but return great obedience.
The rivers and seas are considered kings to the people of the valley because their goodness comes from their service,
Hence, they can become kings to the hundred valleys.
So, a saint does not desire to be above the people,
He must use words that show subordination.
If you desire to lead the people, you must follow behind them.
Therefore a saint treats superiors as unimportant,
He manages to lead them without insulting them.
Therefore the world is happy and does not push him away or grow tired of him.
So, he does not fail to meet their expectations,
He does not struggle,
So the world is not harmed.
What the world calls my great way resembles it but is not that similar.
A person is only great when he appears to not be that way.
After a long time, these things I maintain and guard.
The first is compassion,
The second is frugality,
The third is not daring to put myself before others.
By being compassionate bravery is possible,
By being frugal conquest is possible.
By not daring to put myself before others,
Success is eminent over time.
Now, don’t abandon compassion for bravery.
Don’t abandon frugality for conquest.
Don’t leave the rear ranks for the vanguard or this will end in death.
A man of compassion in war is victorious by guarding this sure principle.
Heaven will rescue the compassionate.
The best warrior is not militant.
The best soldier is not angered.
The best victory is without engaging the enemy.
The best managers of men are those who humble themselves.
This is called the virtue of non-resistance.
This is called using the strength of others.
This is called mingling with heaven’s ancient sublimity.
Soldiers have a saying-
I dare not be the master but rather the guest.
I dare not advance an inch but rather retreat a foot.
This is called marching without walking.
Seize the enemy without using your arms,
Throw without an enemy to aim at,
Grasp without holding a weapon.
Great disaster befalls those who take their enemy lightly.
So, it is mutually beneficial to avoid war and get along.
A sorrowful man is a victorious one.
My words are easy to understand and put into practice.
The world however cannot understand them or carry them out.
Words exists from our ancestors,
My affairs exists from rulers,
Because men do not understand this, they do not understand me either.
Finding someone who understands me is rare.
It is for this reason that it makes it all the more precious.
Therefore, the virtuous wear coarse clothes and carry the jewel in their hearts.