The ancients who showed their skill in practising the Tao did so, not to enlighten the people, but rather to make them simple and ignorant.
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). 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.
J H McDonald
The ancient Masters
who understood the way of the Tao,
did not educate people, but made them forget.
Smart people are difficult to guide,
because they think they are too clever.
To use cleverness to rule a country,
is to lead the country to ruin.
To avoid cleverness in ruling a country,
is to lead the country to prosperity.
Knowing the two alternatives is a pattern.
Remaining aware of the pattern is a virtue.
This dark and mysterious virtue is profound.
It is opposite our natural inclination,
but leads to harmony with the heavens.
The ancients who knew how to follow the Tao
Aimed not to enlighten the people,
But to keep them ignorant.
The reason it is difficult for the people to leave in peace
Is because of too much knowledge.
Those who seek to rule a country by knowledge
Are the nation’s curse.
Those who seek not to rule a country by knowledge
Are the nation’s blessing.
Those who know these two (principles)
Also know the ancient standard,
And to know always the ancient standard
Is called the Mystic Virtue.
When the Mystic Virtue becomes clear, far-reaching,
And things revert back (to their source)
Then and then only emerges the Grand Harmony.