The Way gives life, and virtue feeds us as things take shape and conditions come to a conclusion.
Therefore everybody does not honor the Way but values virtue.
By honoring the Way and valuing virtue, a man’s fate is always natural.
So, the Way gives life and virtue feeds us,
Longevity nourishes us,
Accomplishments ripen us,
Being brought up it shelters us,
Life cannot be possessed or relied upon, and longevity cannot be controlled.
This is called mysterious virtue.
The world’s genesis is considered to be the world’s mother.
By knowing the mother, you know child,
By guarding the mother, life is not perilous.
Plug up the hole,
Shut the door and lifelong struggles end.
Close the hole,
Being frugal in all matters throughout life,
One will not need assistance.
Noticing the insignificant is called brilliance,
Guarding the soft is called strength,
Use light to return to brilliance,
Without losing the body to sin, practice the eternal.
Because I have knowledge of traveling the great way,
It is cause for fear.
The great way seems foreign yet people’s path is good.
The imperial court is being swept clean,
The fields are overgrown with weeds,
The silos are empty.
People follow fashions, culture, and the daily affairs,
People wear sharp swords,
What is left over from the riches and commodities is what robbers boast about.
This is not the way!
A person who tries to set up something good does not try to promote it,
A person who gives you a good hug is not anxious to get away.
When descendents offer sacrifices they should not suddenly quit.
Cultivate oneself so that one’s virtue is genuine.
Cultivate it within one’s own family until excess remains.
Cultivate it in the villages so that its virtue lives on.
Cultivate it in the nation so that its virtue is abundant.
Cultivate it in the world so that its virtue is universal.
So one person observes another,
One family observes another,
By a village observing a village, a country can observe a country and the world can observe the world.
How do I know the world to be like this?
Because of this……..
Having virtue leaves one vulnerable as a naked child.
Poisonous insects cannot sting it.
Wild beasts cannot seize it.
Birds of prey cannot catch it.
Its bones are weak and its muscles soft, yet its grasp is firm.
Male and female mingle,
Their essence materialized,
By the end of the days harmony is realized,
Knowing harmony is called eternal.
Knowing the eternal is enlightenment.
That which benefits life is called auspicious.
The heart that enables the vital breath is called power.
Things that imitate the old are not the way and come to an early end.
A person who knows doesn’t speak,
A person who speaks doesn’t know.
He has plugged the hole and closed the doors,
Blunted the sharpness,
Unraveled the confusion,
Harmonized with the light, and become like dust.
This is called the mysterious union.
So, he isn’t familiar,
He appears withered,
A profit cannot be made off of him,
You can do him no harm,
He isn’t noble,
Nor is he considered lowly.
Hence, the world sees his value.
Be just in governing the nation,
Use craftiness with the military,
Disconnect from daily affairs in dealing with the world.
How do I know this?
Because of this…
When the world has many jealousies the poor grow in number,
When the people start sharpening their weapons, they become roused and lose sight.
People develop many crafts and skills when they are excited by strange trends.
When laws are manifested, robbers and thieves get their share.
So the cultivated person says….
I am not interfering, and the people will change on their own accord.
I will be still and the people will become just on their own accord.
I won’t meddle and the people will become succeed on their own.
I won’t desire and the people will naturally become simple.
Though the government smothers the people they remain pure and simple.
The government oversees everything and yet the people are in need.
Disaster and good fortune are interdependent.
Good fortune and disaster conceal each other.
How do I know this truth?
When justice is abandoned,
Justice returns corrupted, and the good return as demons,
When the people are bewildered the days become hard and long.
When governing the people and the affairs of heaven,
Being conservative is said to be something acquired early.
By acquiring conservatism early one can accumulate great virtue.
Accumulating great virtue arises from restraint.
Without knowing restraint one cannot understand the infinite,
Without knowing the infinite one can possess a nation,
Possessing a nation, one is maternal and one can live long.
This is known as having a deep root and a strong foundation.
Longevity is seen as the way.
Govern a big country like you would cook a small fish.
In accordance with the way attend worldly functions like a ghost and not a god.
Then ghosts will not be gods, and gods will not harm the people.
When gods don’t harm the people,
The cultivated person also doesn’t harm the people.
These two have nothing to do with harming the people, and virtue returns.