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Dao De Jing [Tao Te Ching]

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Chapter 29

Taking No Action

Non-Assertion / Not Forcing Things (Wu Wei)

  Original Legge's Translation Susuki's Translation Goddard's Translation
1 If any one should wish to get the kingdom for himself, and to effect this by what he does, I see that he will not succeed. The kingdom is a spirit-like thing, and cannot be got by active doing. He who would so win it destroys it; he who would hold it in his grasp loses it.
When one desires to take in hand the empire and make it, I see him not succeed. The empire is a divine vessel which cannot be made. One who makes it, mars it. One who takes it, loses it.
One who desires to take and remake the Empire will fail. The Empire is a divine thing that cannot be remade. He who attempts it will only mar it.


The course and nature of things is such that
What was in front is now behind;
What warmed anon we freezing find.
Strength is of weakness oft the spoil;
The store in ruins mocks our toil.

And it is said of beings:
" Some are obsequious, others move boldly, Some breathe warmly, others coldly, Some are strong and others weak, Some rise proudly, others sneak."

He who seeks to grasp it, will lose it. People differ, some lead, others follow; some are ardent, others are formal; some are strong, others weak; some succeed, others fail.
3 Hence the sage puts away excessive effort, extravagance, and easy
Therefore the holy man abandons excess, he abandons extravagance, he abandons indulgence. Therefore the wise man practices moderation; he abandons pleasure, extravagance and indulgence.
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