In all the world, there is none
who is more soft and weak than water,
and yet, to attack strongly,
there is none who may get the better of it,
in order to best it.
Inferior, it is able to get the better of force.
Soft, it is able to get the better of hard.
In all the world, there is no one who doesn’t know.
There is none who can be as effective.
According to the saints say,
“To receive the nation’s disgrace, to speak of society’s cereal master,
to receive the nation’s inauspiciousness, is to act as the world’s King.”
Correct words often seem wrong side-out and upside down.
The Path to Heaven, is it not like the stretching of a bow?
The favored, it humbles, the lowly, it elevates.
To exist with remainder, it causes harm;
for those who are insufficient, it supplements.
Heaven’s Way is to remove where there exists abundance
and to heal where there exists insufficiency.
(Heaven levels the playing field.)
Man’s Way is not so.
Take from the insufficient to give to the abundant.
Who can exist to use his abundance to revere the world?
Only the very most chaste.
To be like to the saints,
act without needing to rely upon achievement.
Accomplish without needing to dwell on the wish to appear worthy.
People are born soft and weak,
they also die solid and strong.
Grass and trees also are born soft and brittle,
they also die dried up and rotten.
This is the reason that
an unyielding and powerful person is death’s disciple,
and a soft, yielding person is life’s disciple.
To be like a well-trained and powerful army,
extinguish power that is strong like a tree,
powerful but easily broken.
Therefore, the strongest should reside below,
while the weak and tender should be elevated.
The people are hungry,
because they are taxed by their superiors,
who are also hungry.
The people are difficult to govern,
because their superiors have become difficult to govern.
The people make light of dying,
because their superiors demand that they give of their lives generously,
thus, they make light of death.
Man alone lacks the ability to give birth;
to be worthy, focus on precious growth.
If the people are not frightened by death,
how can one frighten them by it?
To seem to cause the people fear of death,
and act as the most wonderful (God),
I ought to execute this plan and kill him (that breaks the law),
who dares (break the law then)?
Often there is controlled killing of killers.
For generations man has controlled murderers by killing them,
we’re talking about as far back as when craftsman started carving wood,
infrequently is there no injury to one’s hand when working wood.
The same can be said of cleaving humanity.
(Thus leave the shortening of lives to the Tao.)
Bravery born out of daring leads to slaughter;
Bravery born of humility leads to life.
These two sides might benefit you or do harm to you.
Isn’t Heaven actually loathsome which causes one to become aware of their Reason?
To be like Saint Jew, fret about it. (Make knowing your purpose your problem.)
Heaven’s Way is to fail to live up to expectations and still be good and victorious;
It is self evident: good to respond to, not to summon like tap water.
Repair correctly and plan well.
Heaven’s Net is greater than great.
God may seem negligent, but He misses nothing.
The people don’t fear power, until a large power arrives.
They lack intimacy in their homes, and lack loathing where they grow.
A man does not object to this;
To be according to (the Tao) do not object to this.
To be Saintly yourself, be aware of your uneasiness;
hold yourself admiringly, since you are precious.
The reason to leave that (uneasiness) is to choose this (preciousness).
To be aware, unknowingly, is the highest achievement.
Unknowingly, to be aware (of your illness), is also an illness.
Saints are not diseased. They are sick of sickness.
Only a man who is sick of sickness is not ill.
As one who has a chronic disease, this passage speaks very strongly to me about learning to live with the way your body is, not how you want it to be.
My words are very easy to know, easy to do.
But, there is none in the world who may be aware and do them.
Words exist as models; work exists as the ruler.
Man alone is ignorant because he does not understand me.
To know me is rare, but to follow me is noble.
Be with the Saints and wear wool and cherish jade.
To use Tao’s force there is to speak:
I don’t deserve your praise
to serve as master
as well as to serve as guest.
You flatter me to come in an inch,
as well as to allow me to withdraw a foot.
To speak of doing without doing,
throws one into confusion about lacking arms.
Throw away your enemies to lack an adversary;
Execute a plan to have no military.
The greatest disaster is gently engaging in war,
To do so will cause the death of the precious gentleness.
Because in defiance of both sides of the military,
it seems that only those who grieve are the victors.