March 15th, 2013



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.

Chapter 64

64.1 What is at rest is easy to hold.
       What has not shown up
       is easy to take into account.
       What is frail is easy to break.
       What is vague is easy to dispel.
64.2 Do it before it exists;
       govern it before there's disorder.
64.3 The most massive tree grows from a sprout;
       the highest building rises from a pile of earth;
       a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
64.4 Those who contrive spoil it;
       those who cling lose it.
       Thus sages contrive nothing,
       and so spoil nothing.
       They cling to nothing,
       and so lose noting.
64.5 Therefore people's works are always spoiled on the verge of completion.
       Be as careful of the end as of the beginning,
       and nothing will be spoiled.
64.6 Thus sages want to have no wants;
       they do not value goods hard to get.
       They learn not learning to recover from people's excesses,
       thereby to assist the naturalness of all beings,
       without daring to contrive.

Tao Teh Ching - Cleary Translation