Tao Te Ching #60: “Governing a large nation is like cooking little fish”

Governing a large nation
is like cooking little fish.
When the world is ruled by the Way,
the ghosts are powerless.
It is not that the ghosts are powerless;
their spirits do not harm the people.
Not only do the spirits not harm the people;
sages do not harm the people either.
Because the two do not harm each other,
their virtues ultimately combine.

– Thomas Cleary


Ruling a great state
is like cooking a small fish
when you govern the world with the Tao
spirits display no powers
not that they have no powers
their powers don’t harm the people
not that their powers can’t harm
the sages keep them from harming
and neither harms the other
for both rely on Virtue

– Red Pine


Rule a great state as you cook a small fish.

Through the Way take a ruler’s place in the world,
And the ghosts of the dead shall have no force.
Is it that they have no force?
Or that their force can do no harm?
That their force can do no harm?
Or that the wise lord does no harm?
Nor ghosts nor wise lord doing harm
To their joint virtue thus redounds.

– Moss Roberts