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Dao De Jing [Tao Te Ching]

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Chapter 19

Returning to the Unadulterated Influence

Returning to Simplicity / Return to Simplicity

  Original Legge's Translation Susuki's Translation Goddard's Translation
1 If we could renounce our sageness and discard our wisdom, it would be better for the people a hundredfold. If we could renounce our benevolence and discard our righteousness, the people would again become filial and kindly. If we could renounce our artful
contrivances and discard our (scheming for) gain, there would be no thieves nor robbers.
Abandon your saintliness; put away your prudence; and the people will gain a hundredfold! Abandon your benevolence; put away your justice; and the people will return to filial piety and paternal devotion. Abandon smartness; give up greed; and thieves and robbers will no longer exist.

Abandon the show of saintliness and relinquish excessive prudence, then people will benefit a hundredfold. Abandon ostentatious benevolence and conspicuous righteousness, then people will return to the primal virtues of filial piety and parental affection. Abandon cleverness and relinquish gains, then thieves and robbers will disappear.
2 Those three methods (of government)
Thought olden ways in elegance did fail
And made these names their want of worth to veil; But simple views, and courses plain and true Would selfish ends and many lusts eschew.
These are three things for which culture is insufficient. Therefore it is said: "Hold fast to that which will endure, Show thyself simple, preserve thee pure, And lessen self with desires fewer." Here are three fundamentals on which to depend, wherein culture is insufficient. Therefore let all men hold to that which is reliable, namely, recognize simplicity, cherish purity, reduce one's possessions, diminish one's desires.
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