March 9th, 2013



When the country is ruled with a light hand
The people are simple.
When the country is ruled with severity,
The people are cunning.

Happiness is rooted in misery.
Misery lurks beneath happiness.
Who knows what the future holds?
There is no honesty.
Honesty becomes dishonest.
Goodness becomes witchcraft.
Man's bewitchment lasts for a long time.

Therefore the sage is sharp but not cutting,
Pointed but not piercing,
Straightforward but not unrestrained,
Brilliant but not blinding.
When a nation is ruled
with a light touch,
people lead simple lives.
When a government
is harsh and demanding,
people will spend their time
trying to outsmart it.

Happiness is rooted in misery,
and misery lurks beneath all joy.
Who knows what could happen tomorrow?

Everything is relative;
what's considered proper today
may become improper.
Correct appearances
may hide dishonesty and sinfulness.

No wonder so many people get confused.

The Masters have sharp minds,
not sharp tongues.
They are austere,
but never judgmental.
They are straightforward,
but not provocative.
They are brilliant,
but not flashy.

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

Chapter 58

58.1 When the government is unobtrusive, the people are pure.
       When the government is invasive, the people are wanting.
58.2 Calamity is what fortune depends upon;
       fortune is what calamity subdues.
58.3 Who knows how it will all end?
       Is there no right and wrong?
       The orthodox also becomes the unorthodox,
       the good also becomes ill;
       people's confusion is indeed long-standing.
58.4 Therefore sages are upright without causing injury,
       honest without hurting,
       direct but not tactless,
       illuminated but not flashy.
Tao Teh Ching - Cleary Translation