Translations at a glance

J Legge    J H McDonald   Lin Yutang

Tao Te Ching Chapter 58

J Legge

The government that seems the most unwise,
Oft goodness to the people best supplies;
That which is meddling, touching everything,
Will work but ill, and disappointment bring.

Misery!–happiness is to be found by its side! Happiness!–misery lurks beneath it! Who knows what either will come to in the end?

Shall we then dispense with correction? The (method of) correction shall by a turn become distortion, and the good in it shall by a turn become evil. The delusion of the people (on this point) has indeed subsisted for a long time.

Therefore the sage is (like) a square which cuts no one (with its angles); (like) a corner which injures no one (with its sharpness). He is straightforward, but allows himself no license; he is bright, but does not dazzle.

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Tao Te Ching Chapter 58

J H McDonald

If a government is unobtrusive,
the people become whole.
If a government is repressive,
the people become treacherous.

Good fortune has its roots in disaster,
and disaster lurks with good fortune.
Who knows why these things happen,
or when this cycle will end?
Good things seem to change into bad,
and bad things often turn out for good.
These things have always been hard to comprehend.

Thus the Master makes things change
without interfering.
She is probing yet causes no harm.
Straightforward, yet does not impose her will.
Radiant, and easy on the eye.

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Tao Te Ching Chapter 58

Lin Yutang

When the government is lazy and dull,
Its people are unspoiled;
When the government is efficient and smart,
Its people are discontented.

Disaster is the avenue of fortune,
(And) fortune is the concealment for disaster.
Who would be able to know its ultimate results?
(As it is), there would never be the normal.
But the normal would (immediately) revert to the deceitful.
And the good revert to the sinister.
Thus long has mankind gone astray!

Therefore the Sage is square (has firm principles),
but not cutting (sharp-cornered),
Has integrity but does not hurt (others),
Is straight, but not high-handed,
Bright, but not dazzling.

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