Do nondoing,
strive for nonstriving,
savor the flavorless,
regard the small as important,
make much of little,
repay enmity with virtue;
plan for difficulty when it is still easy,
do the great while it is still small.
The most difficult things in the world
must be done while they are easy;
the greatest things in the world
must be done while they are small.
Because of this sages never do great things;
that is why they can fulfill their greatness.
If you agree too easily, you’ll be little trusted;
if you take it easy a lot, you’ll have a lot of problems.
Therefore it is through difficulty
that sages end up without problems.

– Thomas Cleary


Act without acting
work without working
understand without understanding
great or small many or few
repay each wrong with virtue
plan for the hard while it’s easy
deal with the great while it’s small
the world’s hardest task begins easy
the world’s greatest goal begins small
sages therefore never act great
they thus achieve great goals
who quickly agrees is seldom trusted
who thinks things easy finds them hard
sages therefore think everything hard
and thus find nothing hard

– Red Pine


Do what is undone;
Serve the unserved;
Savor what lacks savor;
Make bigger smaller, more less;
Repay a wrong with friendly favor.

Forestall trouble when it’s easy to.
Act on the major when it’s still minor.
For this world’s troubles start with simple things,
And major matters rise from little ones.
Thus the wise, not making much of them,
Can always see their great works through.

But “lightly granted rarely honored”;
And much too easy means much trouble.
Even the wisest looks for the trouble ahead,
And ends up with the trouble spared.

– Moss Roberts


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