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Dao De Jing [Tao Te Ching]

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Chapter 73

Allowing Men to Take Their Course

Daring to Act / Action is Dangerous

  Original Legge's Translation Susuki's Translation Goddard's Translation
1 He whose boldness appears in his daring (to do wrong, in defiance of the laws) is put to death; he whose boldness appears in his not daring (to do so) lives on. Of these two cases the one appears to be advantageous, and the other to be injurious. Courage, if carried to daring, leads to death; courage, if not carried to daring, leads to life. Either of these two things is sometimes beneficial, sometimes harmful.

Courage carried to daring leads to death. Courage restrained by caution leads to life. These two things, courage and caution, are sometimes beneficial and sometimes harmful.


When Heaven's anger smites a man,
Who the cause shall truly scan? On this account the sage feels a difficulty (as to what to do in the former case).

"Why ’t is by heaven rejected,
Who has the reason detected?" Therefore the holy man also regards it as difficult.

Some things are rejected by heaven, who can tell the reason? Therefore the wise man deems all acting difficult.


It is the way of Heaven not to strive, and yet it skilfully overcomes; not to speak, and yet it is skilful in (obtaining a reply; does not call, and yet men come to it of themselves. Its
demonstrations are quiet, and yet its plans are skilful and effective.

The Heavenly Reason strives not, but it is sure to conquer. It speaks not, but it is sure to respond. It summons not, but it comes of itself. It works patiently, but is sure in its designs.

The Dao of heaven does not quarrel, yet it conquers. It speaks not, yet its response is good. It issues no summons but things come to it naturally because its devices are good.

4 The meshes of the net of Heaven are large; far apart, but letting nothing escape. Heaven's net is vast, so vast. It is wide-meshed, but it loses nothing. Heaven's net is vast, indeed! its meshes are wide but it loses nothing.
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