When the government is unobtrusive,
the people are pure.
When the government is invasive,
the people are wanting.
Calamity is what fortune depends upon;
fortune is what calamity subdues.
Who knows how it will all end?
Is there no right and wrong?
The orthodox becomes unorthodox,
the good also becomes ill;
people’s confusion
is indeed long-standing.
Therefore sages are upright without causing injury,
honest without hurting,
direct but not tactless,
illumined but not flashy.

– Thomas Cleary

 

Where the government stands aloof
the people open up
where the government steps in
the people slip away
happiness rests in misery
misery hides in happiness
who knows where these end
for nothing is direct
directness becomes deception
and good becomes evil
the people have been lost
for a long long time
thus the sage is an edge that doesn’t cut
a point that doesn’t pierce
a line that doesn’t extend
a light that doesn’t blind

– Red Pine

 

Under rule restrained but caring
Simple and wholesome stay the ruled;
But under rule that probes and prods
They connive and they contrive.
Good fortune stands beside ill fate;
Beneath good fortune ill fate hides.
Who can find the turning point?
For it there is no standard rule:
Rule reverses to exception,
Boon reverses to affliction,
For which men have lost direction
For a time of long duration.
This is why the wise who rule
Keep to the square but form no edge,
Gather gains but will not thrust,
Stay straight and true but cross no line;
And shed light but not to blind.

– Moss Roberts

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