July 28th, 2010

Chapter 75

When men are deprived of food,
It is because their kings tax them too heavily.
Therefore, they are deprived of food.
When men are hard to govern,
It is because kings interfere with their lives.
Therefore, they are hard to govern.
When men give up their lives lightly,
It is because their kings are anxious to live extravagantly.
Therefore, men give up their lives lightly.
Only one who disregards his own life
Knows how to value the lives of others.

                  Translation by Chang Chung-yuan, 1975.


Why are the people starving?
Because the rulers eat up the money in taxes.
Therefore the people are starving.

Why are the people rebellious?
Because the rulers interfere too much.
Therefore they are rebellious.

Why do the people think so little of death?
Because the rulers demand too much of life.
Therefore the people take death lightly.

Having little to live on, one knows better than to value life too much.
People starve
because the government
taxes them to death.
People rebel
because the government
tries to run their lives.
People act like life is meaningless
because the government
takes everything they have.

People who know how to enjoy life
are wiser than people who value their lives.

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