Daodejing 3


#3*

Do not encourage
excellent abilities[1]
[and] keep people from
contention;
do not value rare
goods, keep people
from stealing;
do not flaunt the
desirable, keep
people’s hearts
undisturbed.

Hence, the governance
Of the sage
Empties their hearts
Fills their stomachs;
Weakens their wills,
Strengthens their bones.
Always keeps people
knowing nothing and
having no desire:
makes the wiseguys [2]
dare not to do anything.

Do doing-without-doing,
Thus nothing cannot be governed. [3]

*Translation by LU Wenlong & Keith Wayne Brown, ©2013.


[1] Here the advice is to not be glorifying the person who has excellent abilities less they become unwilling to give from their excess. See #77.

[2] We are using the term “wiseguys” to differentiate between the wise person and those who know enough to be dangerous because they will meddle in the affairs of people. We might also have chosen a sophist or a meddler to denote this person.

[3] Chinese, like many ancient languages, allows for double negatives.

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