May 30th, 2011

57

A realm is governed by ordinary acts,
A battle is governed by extraordinary acts;
The world is governed by no acts at all.
And how do I know?
This is how I know.
Act after act prohibits
Everything but poverty,
Weapon after weapon conquers
Everything but chaos,
Business after business provides
A craze of waste,
Law after law breeds
A multitude of thieves.
Therefore a sensible man says:
If I keep from meddling with people, they take care of themselves,
If I keep from commanding people, they behave themselves,
If I keep from preaching at people, they improve themselves,
If I keep from imposing on people, they become themselves.

The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (The Witter Bynner version), Terebess Asia Online (TAO)
goban

57

Rule a nation with justice.
Wage war with surprise moves.
Become master of the universe without striving.
How do I know that this is so?
Because of this!

The more laws and restrictions there are,
The poorer people become.
The sharper men's weapons,
The more trouble in the land.
The more ingenious and clever men are,
The more strange things happen.
The more rules and regulations,
The more thieves and robbers.

Therefore the sage says:
I take no action and people are reformed.
I enjoy peace and people become honest.
I do nothing and people become rich.
I have no desires and people return to the good and simple life.
-
-
You can run a country
by sticking to principles,
and you can win a war
with strategy and tactics.
But you can gain the entire world
by doing nothing at all.

How do I know this?
I've seen it happen:
The more restrictions
a nation imposes,
the poorer its people become.
When a nation hoards weapons,
troubles arise from within
and from without.
When its leaders try
to be cunning and clever,
the situation spins
further out of control.
When they try to fix things
by passing more laws,
they only increase the number of outlaws.

A wise leader says to himself:
"I do nothing,
and people transform themselves.
I keep silent,
and they do the right thing
on their own.
I stay out of the way,
and they prosper.
I want for nothing,
and they lead simple lives."
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The first version is from the Fortune files. The second version is the Beatrice Tao.