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Dao De Jing [Tao Te Ching]

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Chapter 58

Transformation According to Circumstances

Adaptation to Change / Adaptation to Change

  Original Legge's Translation Susuki's Translation Goddard's Translation
1 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.
Whose government is unostentatious, quite unostentatious, his people will be prosperous, quite prosperous. Whose government is prying, quite prying, his people will be needy, quite needy.

When an administration is unostentatious the people are simple. When an administration is inquisitive, the people are needy.

2

Misery!--happiness is to be found by its side! Happiness!--misery
lurks beneath it! Who knows what either will come to in the end?

Misery, alas! rests upon happiness. Happiness, alas! underlies misery. But who foresees the catastrophe? It will not be prevented!

Misery, alas, supports happiness. Happiness, alas, conceals misery. Who knows its limits? It never ceases.

3

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.

What is ordinary becomes again extraordinary. What is good becomes again unpropitious. This bewilders people, and it happens constantly since times immemorial.

The normal becomes the abnormal. The good in turn becomes unlucky. The people's confusion is felt daily for a long time.

4 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.
Therefore the holy man is square but not sharp, strict but not obnoxious, upright but not restraining, bright but not dazzling. Therefore the wise man is square, yet does not injure, he is angular but does not annoy. He is upright but is not cross. He is bright but not glaring.
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