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. But
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).
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 meshes of the net of Heaven are large; far apart, but letting nothing escape.
J H McDonald
Being over bold and confidant is deadly.
The wise use of caution will keep you alive.
One is the way to death,
and the other is the way to preserve your life.
Who can understand the workings of Heaven?
The Tao of the universe
does not compete, yet wins;
does not speak, yet responds;
does not command, yet is obeyed;
and does act, but is good at directing.
The nets of Heaven are wide,
but nothing escapes its grasp.
Who is brave in daring (you) kill,
Who is brave in not daring (you) let live.
In these two,
There is some advantage and some disadvantage.
(Even if) Heaven dislikes certain people,
Who would know (who are to be killed and) why?
Therefore even the Sage regards it as a difficult question.
Heaven’s Way (Tao) is good at conquest without strife,
Rewarding (vice and virtue) without words,
Making its appearance without call,
Achieving results without obvious design.
The heaven’s net is broad and wide.
With big meshes, yet letting nothing slip through.