Tao Te Ching #3: “Not exalting cleverness”

Not exalting cleverness
causes the people not to contend.
Not putting high prices on hard-to-get goods
causes the people not to steal.
Not seeing anything to want
causes the mind to be confused.
Therefore the government of sages
empties the mind and fills the middle,
weakens the ambition and strengthens the bones,
always keeping the people innocent and passionless.
It makes the sophisticated not dare to contrive;
action being without contrivance,
nothing is disordered.

– Thomas Cleary


Bestowing no honors
keeps people from fighting
prizing no treasures
keeps people from stealing
displaying no attractions
keeps people from making trouble
thus the rule of the sage
empties the mind
but fills the stomach
weakens the will
but strengthens the bones
by keeping the people from knowing or wanting
and those who know from daring to act
the sage governs them all

– Red Pine


Do not promote those who excel
And folk will have no cause to quarrel.
Prize not goods too hard to find
And people won’t be turned to crime.
These objects of desire unviewed,
The people’s thoughts remain subdued.
Thus under a wise man’s rule
Blank are their minds
But full their bellies,
Meet their wills
But tough their bones.
He keeps the folk
From knowing and craving,
And the intellects
From daring to lead.
By acting himself without taking the lead
Inside his kingdom all is well ruled.

– Moss Roberts