July 6th, 2010

Chapter 53

If I had even a slight awareness,
And practiced the great Way,
What I would fear would be deviating from it.
The great Way is a very level road,
But men like to take circuitous paths,
Thus, the palaces are extremely elaborate,
But the people's farms are extremely desolate,
And their is no grain reserved in the storehouses.
The rulers wear expensive garments,
Carry fine swords,
Satiate themselves with food and drink,
And possess inordinate riches and precious things.
This is the greatest robbery,
And is indeed against the great Way.

                 Translation by Chang Chung-yuan, 1975.


If I have even just a little sense,
I will walk on the main road and my only fear
will be of straying from it.
Keeping to the main road is easy,
But people love to be sidetracked.

When the court is arrayed in splendor,
The fields are full of weeds,
And the granaries are bare.
Some wear gorgeous clothes,
Carry sharp swords,
And indulge themselves with food and drink;
They have more possessions than they can use.
They are robber barons.
This is certainly not the way of Tao.
If I had any sense,
I'd be trying to get right with Tao,
and the only thing I'd worry about
would be messing up.
It's not that hard to get right with Tao,
but people are easily distracted.

"When the king's palace is full of treasure,"
Lao Tzu said,
"ordinary people's fields
are smothered with weeds,
and the food supplies run out."

Today, you see sharply dressed people
carrying flashy weapons
and living the high life.

They own more
than they could ever use,
let alone need.

They're nothing
but gangsters and crooks.
That's not what Tao's about.

The first version is from the Fortune files. The second version is the Beatrice Tao.