In a small country, there are few people.
To enable the country to run, there is one tenth
of the eldest gentlemen who are kept as a tool
without needing to be used;
to enable the people to endure the heavy burden of death
without needing to go far to change ones residence.
Although there is boat carriage,
it does not matter if you ride it,
although there is first in order, soldiers,
it does not matter the arrangement.
Enable the people to recover binding rope as well as to use it.
Sweet is their food;
Beautiful are their clothes;
Peaceful are their homes;
Vulgar is their laughter.
Neighboring countries gaze towards one another;
chicken and dog make noise and sniff at one another;
the citizenry arrive at old age and even death,
and have nothing to do with each other’s dealings.
To bring harmony to an old, great complaint,
necessarily there will be some remainder of the old complaint.
By recompensing the complaint with De (virtue and goodness).
may it be possible to bring peace and to serve the greater good?
To be like the saints, execute your portion of a contract
without the expectation of duty of performance by the other side.
Virtuous company keeps their contractual obligations.
Those who lack virtue do not.
Heaven’s Way lacks intimate relations;
it is always on the side of the good man.
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.)