Lao Tzu Tao Te Ching Chapter 19

Translations at a glance

J Legge    J H McDonald   Lin Yutang

Tao Te Ching Chapter 19

J Legge

If we could renounce our sageness and discard our wisdom, it would be better for the people a hundredfold. If we could renounce our benevolence and discard our righteousness, the people would again become filial and kindly. If we could renounce our artful contrivances and discard our (scheming for) gain, there would be no thieves nor robbers.

Those three methods (of government)
Thought olden ways in elegance did fail
And made these names their want of worth to veil;
But simple views, and courses plain and true Would selfish ends and many lusts eschew.
When we renounce learning we have no troubles.

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 Tao Te Ching Chapter 19

J H McDonald

Forget about knowledge and wisdom,
and people will be a hundred times better off.
Throw away charity and righteousness,
and people will return to brotherly love.
Throw away profit and greed,
and there won’t be any thieves.

These three are superficial and aren’t enough
to keep us at the center of the circle, so we must also:

Embrace simplicity.
Put others first.
Desire little.

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 Tao Te Ching Chapter 19

Lin Yutang

Banish wisdom, discard knowledge,
And the people shall profit a hundredfold;
Banish “humanity,” discard “justice,”
And the people shall recover love of their kin;
Banish cunning, discard “utility,”
And the thieves and brigands shall disappear.
As these three touch the externals and are inadequate,
The people have need of what they can depend upon:

Reveal thy simple self,
Embrace thy original nature,
Check thy selfishness,
Curtail thy desires.

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