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Tao Te Ching
By Lao Tsu
Chapters 71 - 81
There is nothing better than to know that you don't know.
Not knowing, yet thinking you know--
This is sickness.
Only when you are sick of being sick
Can you be cured.
The sage's not being sick
Is because she is sick of sickness.
Therefore she is not sick.
When the people do not fear your might
Then your might has truly become great.
Don't interfere with their household affairs.
Don't oppress their livelihood.
If you don't oppress them they won't feel oppressed.
Thus the sage understands herself
But does not show herself.
But does not prize herself.
Therefore she lets go of that
And takes this.
If you are courageous in daring you will die.
If you are courageous in not-daring you will live.
Among these two, one is beneficial and the other is harmful.
Who understands the reason why Heaven dislikes what it dislikes?
Even the sage has difficulty in knowing this.
The Way of Heaven is to win easily without struggle.
To respond well without words,
To naturally come without special invitation,
To plan well without anxiety.
Heaven's net is vast.
It is loose.
Yet nothing slips through.
If the people don't fear death
How will you scare them with death?
If you make the people continuously fear death
By seizing anybody who does something out of the ordinary
And killing them,
Who will dare to move?
There is always an official executioner to handle this.
If you play the role of the official executioner
It is like cutting wood in the capacity of Master Carpenter.
There are few who will not cut their hands.
The reason people starve
Is because their rulers tax them excessively.
They are difficult to govern
Because their rulers have their own ends in mind.
The reason people take death lightly
Is because they want life to be rich.
Therefore they take death lightly.
It is only by not living for your own ends
That you can go beyond valuing life.
When people are born they are gentle and soft.
At death they are hard and stiff.
When plants are alive they are soft and delicate.
When they die, they wither and dry up.
Therefore the hard and stiff are followers of death.
The gentle and soft are the followers of life.
Thus, if you are aggressive and stiff, you won't win.
When a tree is hard enough, it is cut. Therefore
The hard and big are lesser,
The gentle and soft are greater.
The Way of Heaven
Is like stretching a bow.
The top is pulled down,
The bottom is pulled up.
Excess string is removed
Where more is needed, it is added.
It is the Way of Heaven
To remove where there is excess
And add where there is lack.
The way of people is different:
They take away where there is need
And add where there is surplus.
Who can take his surplus and give it to the people?
Only one who possesses the Tao.
Therefore the sage acts without expectation.
Does not abide in his accomplishments.
Does not want to show his virtue.
Nothing in the world is softer than water,
Yet nothing is better at overcoming the hard and strong.
This is because nothing can alter it.
That the soft overcomes the hard
And the gentle overcomes the aggressive
Is something that everybody knows
But none can do themselves.
Therefore the sages say:
"The one who accepts the dirt of the state
Becomes its master.
The one who accepts its calamity
Becomes king of the world.
Truth seems contradictory.
After calming great anger
There are always resentments left over.
How can this be considered as goodness?
Therefore the sage keeps her part of the deal
And doesn't check up on the other person.
Thus virtuous officials keep their promise
And the crooked ones break it.
The Heavenly Tao has no favorites:
It raises up the Good.
Let there be a small country with few people,
Who, even having much machinery, don't use it.
Who take death seriously and don't wander far away.
Even though they have boats and carriages, they never ride in them.
Having armor and weapons, they never go to war.
Let them return to measurement by tying knots in rope.
Sweeten their food, give them nice clothes, a peaceful abode and a relaxed life.
Even though the next country can be seen and its doges and chickens can be heard,
The people will grow old and die without visiting each others land.
True words are not fancy.
Fancy words are not true.
The good do not debate.
Debaters are not good.
The one who really knows is not broadly learned,
The extensively learned do not really know.
The sage does not hoard,
She gives people her surplus.
Giving her surplus to others she is enriched.
The way of Heaven is to help and not harm.