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Tao Te Ching Chapter 58 | Lao-Tzu | Comparative Translations

The Way of Virtue





The government that seems the most unwise, Oft goodness to the people best supplies; That which is meddling, touching everything, Will work but ill, and disappointment bring. Misery!--happiness is to be found by its side! Happiness!--misery lurks beneath it! Who knows what either will come to in the end? Shall we then dispense with correction? The (method of) correction shall by a turn become distortion, and the good in it shall by a turn become evil. The delusion of the people (on this point) has indeed subsisted for a long time. Therefore the sage is (like) a square which cuts no one (with its angles); (like) a corner which injures no one (with its sharpness). He is straightforward, but allows himself no license; he is bright, but does not dazzle.

If a country is governed with tolerance,

the people are comfortable and honest.

If a country is governed with repression,

the people are depressed and crafty.


When the will to power is in charge,

the higher the ideals, the lower the results.

Try to make people happy,

and you lay the groundwork for misery.

Try to make people moral,

and you lay the groundwork for vice.


Thus the Master is content

to serve as an example

and not to impose her will.

She is pointed, but doesn't pierce.

Straightforward, but supple.

Radiant, but easy on the eyes.




Translated by J. Legge





Translated by Stephen Mitchell

















 

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