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Dao De Jing [Tao Te Ching]

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Chapter 65

Pure, Unmixed Excellence

The Virtue of Simplicity / The Virtue of Simplicity

  Original Legge's Translation Susuki's Translation Goddard's Translation
1 The ancients who showed their skill in practising the Dao did so, not to enlighten the people, but rather to make them simple and ignorant.
The ancients who were well versed in Reason did not thereby enlighten the people; they intended thereby to make them simple-hearted. In the olden days those who obeyed the spirit of Dao did not enlighten the people but kept them simple hearted.


The difficulty in governing the people arises from their having much knowledge. He who (tries to) govern a state by his wisdom is a scourge to it; while he who does not (try to) do so is a blessing. He who knows these two things finds in them also his model and rule. Ability to know this model and rule constitutes what we call the mysterious excellence (of a governor).

If people are difficult to govern, it is because they are too smart. To govern the country with smartness is the country's curse. To govern the country without smartness is the country's blessing. He who knows these two things is also a model [like the ancients]. Always to know the model is called profound virtue.

The reason people are difficult to govern is because of their smartness; likewise to govern a people with guile is a curse; and to govern them with simplicity is a blessing. He who remembers these two things is a model ruler. Always to follow this standard and rule is de [teh], the profound.

3 Deep and far-reaching is such mysterious excellence, showing indeed its possessor as opposite to others, but leading them to a great conformity to him. Spiritual virtue, verily, is profound. Verily, it is far-reaching. Verily, it is to everything reverse. But then it will procure great recognition. Profound de [teh] is deep indeed and far reaching. The very opposite of common things, but by it one obtains obedient subjects.
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