Tao Te Ching #29: “Should you want to take this world”

Should you want to take this world,
and contrive to do so,
I see you won’t manage to finish.
The most sublime instrument in the world
cannot be contrived.
Those who contrive spoil it;
those who cling lose it.
So creatures sometimes go and sometimes follow,
sometimes puff and sometimes blow,
are sometimes strong and sometimes weak,
begin sometime and end sometime;
therefore sages remove extremes,
remove extravagance,
remove arrogance.

– Thomas Cleary


Trying to govern the world with force
I see this not succeeding
the world is a spiritual thing
it can’t be forced
to force it is to harm it
to control it is to lose it
sometimes things lead
sometimes they follow
sometimes they blow hot
sometimes they blow cold
sometimes they expand
sometimes they collapse
sages therefore avoid extremes
avoid extravagance
avoid excess

– Red Pine


Whoever means to take this realm and rule it—
I see them failing to attain that end.
For this realm below, a sacred vessel,
Never may be subject to such rule.
They ruin it who try,
Lose it who hold on.

All living things of form
Now move ahead, now trail behind;
Now breathe hot, now cold;
Now wax strong, now fade;
Now are safely set, but soon will fall.
And so the wise stay far from
All extremes, all surfeit, all grandeur.

– Moss Roberts