Tao Te Ching #53: “The Great Way is quite even, yet people prefer byways”

Causing one flashes of knowledge
to travel the Great Way,
only its application demands care.
The Great Way is quite even,
yet people prefer byways.
When courts are extremely fastidious,
the fields are seriously neglected,
and the granaries are very empty;
they wear colorful clothing
and carry sharp swords,
eat and drink to their fill
and possess more than enough.
This is called the vanity of thieves;
it is not the Way.

– Thomas Cleary


Were I sufficiently wise
I would follow the Great Way
and only fear going astray
the Great Way is smooth
but people love byways
their palaces are spotless
but their fields are overgrown
and their granaries are empty
they wear fine clothes
and carry sharp swords
they tire of food and drink
and possess more than they need
this is called robbery
and robbery is not the Way

– Red Pine


Grant me this: to firmly know
That in walking the great high Way
I shall fear only to deviate
From the high way plain and fair;
For to byways men are lightly drawn.
The court is richly blessed,
But the farm fields are wasting,
And the bins bare of grain;
And courtiers dress in elegance,
Bear well-honed swords,
Gorge on food and drink—
This superflux of wealth and goods
Is the piper’s tune for thieves,
The negation of the Way.

– Moss Roberts

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