To know and be as one who does not know is elevated.
To not know and act as though you do is a sickness.
One who is sick of being sick is no longer sick.
The sage is not sick because he is sick of sickness.
People do not fear power because they are ruled by a greater power ultimately.
Not intimate but close,
It does not harass people’s lives.
So, don’t harass either.
Therefore to the saint,
Self-realization is not the same as self-visualization.
Self-love is not the same as self-esteem.
So, leave one and choose the other.
The strong do not dare to imitate death nor do they dare to imitate life.
Either of these can profit or harm.
Heaven detests that which tries to understand its principles.
Heavens way is not to fight yet it achieves great victories,
It does not summons though people come to it,
Heaven is like a great net that is thin but nothing is lost.
The people do not fear death.
Why don’t the people fear death?
If the people are made to always fear death then death will not be unusual for them.
How would I dare to carry out an execution?
When an executioner is unavailable a substitute takes his place,
This is called replacing the great axe-man.
A man who replaces the great axe-man rarely can avoid injuring his own hand.
The people are hungry because their superiors tax them too much.
That’s why they are hungry.
The people are difficult to govern because their superiors are too busy.
That’s why they are difficult to govern.
The people take death lightly because too much is demanded of them when they are alive.
That’s why the people take death lightly.
A person who loses his own life is worthy of valuing life.
A man is born soft and weak, but dies rigid.
Grass and wood are soft and crisp when they sprout, but dry when they die.
So, the hard and strong are apprentices of death.
The soft and weak are apprentices of life.
Therefore, the strength of an army can be extinguished,
Wood’s strength can be broken.
Strength declines from its great position,
Softness and weakness maintain an exalted position
Heaven’s way is like drawing a bow.
The top part comes down and the bottom part goes up.
A man with a surplus does harm,
A man who does not have enough can make it up.
Heaven’s way is to take away where there is a remainder and apply it to where there is a deficit.
Man’s way is to take where there is a deficit and apply it to where there is a remainder.
Who has a surplus that they can offer to the world?
Therefore, the wise person acts but isn’t reliant.
Accomplishes the job but does not dwell on it.
Hence, he does not desire to be seen as worthy or lowly.
In the world nothing is more soft and supple than water, yet when attacking something very hard it cannot be beaten.
There is nothing that can compare to its ease.
The weak overcome the strong,
There is no one is the world that understands and no one who can practice this.
Therefore, the sage says-
Enduring the filth of a nation is called being a master of society.
Enduring the misfortunes of nation is called being king of the world.
True words are paradoxical.
Though anger is quelled there must still be some remaining.
Accepting blame should be applied to your character or reconciliation will not happen.
Therefore, the sage keeps his contracts without blaming others.
Virtuous contracts are without persuasion.
Heaven’s way is never partial, but is always generous to the good man.
A small country has few people.
Even though there are tools, they are not used.
Even though there are many deaths, people don’t move far away.
Even though they have boats and carriages, they don’t care how they get around.
Even though they have armor and weapons, they don’t display them.
Let the people return to using knotted ropes.
With sweet food,
They are happy and vulgar.
Bordering countries gaze upon each other,
The sound of chickens and dogs can be heard.
Citizens grow old and die without ever having dealings with their neighbors.
Truthful words are not beautiful, and beautiful words are not true.
A good man is not argumentative, and argumentative men are not good.
A wise man is not rich, and a rich man is not wise.
A gentleman does not accumulate, because he believes doing for others is fulfilling,
The more he shares with others the more he receives.
Heaven’s way benefits but does not harm.
The sage’s way is to do without doing.