July 17th, 2010

Chapter 64

That which is motionless is easy to maintain.
That which is prior to emergence is easy to deal with.
That which is just beginning is easy to destroy.
That which is minute is easy to disperse.
Act on what is before it occurs.
Manage things before they are in disorder.
Big trees grow out of small shoots.
A nine story tower begins to be built from one little lump.
A journey of a thousand miles begins from where one stays.
Those who proceed through action fail.
Those who grasp onto a thing lose it.
Therefore, the wise does not act on things and is free from failure.
He does not grasp on to things, and does not lose them.
People who are engaged with things often fail when they almost complete them.
Therefore, one should be as careful in the last stage of one's work as at the beginning.
Then one will be free from failure.
Hence, for the wise, willing is non-willing.
He never values things which are hard to attain.
He leans what is unlearned.
He avoids the mistakes which have been made by others.
He is in accordance with the nature of ten thousand things, yet he never interferes with them.

     Translation by Chang Chung-yuan, 1975.


Peace is easily maintained;
Trouble is easily overcome before it starts.
The brittle is easily shattered;
The small is easily scattered.

Deal with it before it happens.
Set things in order before there is confusion.

A tree as great as a man's embrace springs up from a small shoot;
A terrace nine stories high begins with a pile of earth;
A journey of a thousand miles starts under one's feet.

He who acts defeats his own purpose;
He who grasps loses.
The sage does not act, and so is not defeated.
He does not grasp and therefore does not lose.

People usually fail when they are on the verge of success.
So give as much care to the end as to the beginning;
Then there will be no failure.

Therefore the sage seeks freedom from desire.
He does not collect precious things.
He learns not to hold on to ideas.
He brings men back to what they have lost.
He help the ten thousand things find their own nature,
But refrains from action.
It's easy to maintain balance.
Trouble can be nipped in the bud.
Fragile things break easily,
and small things are easy to lose.

Deal with the situation
before it becomes a problem.
Keep everything straight
so it can't get messed up.

Every tree was once a seed.
Every skyscraper started out
with a shovelful of dirt.
And--stop me if you've heard this one before--
a journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single step.

When you try too hard,
you defeat your own purpose.
Cling to stuff,
and you will suffer loss.
The Masters make no effort,
so they never fail.
They aren't attached to things,
so they never feel loss.

People often screw up
when the job's nearly done.
Pay as much attention
to the finishing touches
as you do to the initial steps,
and you won't screw up like that.

The Masters try to be free from desire.
They don't collect precious things.
They don't cling to any beliefs.
They pay attention
to what everybody else ignores.
They help the world get right with Tao,
but don't try to change a thing.

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