Tao Te Ching #74: “If people usually don’t fear death, how can death be used to scare them?”
If people usually don’t fear death,
how can death be used to scare them?
If people are made to fear death,
and you can catch and kill them
when they act oddly,
who would dare?
There are always executioners.
And to kill in place of an executioner
is taking the place
of a master carver.
Those who take the place
of a master carver
rarely avoid cutting their hands.
– Thomas Cleary
If people no longer fear death
what good is threatening to kill them
if people truly fear death
and some act perverse
and we catch and kill them
who else would dare
as long as people fear death
the executioner will exist
to kill in the executioner’s place
is to cut in the carpenter’s place
those who cut in the carpenter’s place
seldom escape with hands intact
– Red Pine
If the people fear not even death itself,
How can execution frighten them?
If they are in constant fear of death,
And we seize and put to death
Committers of crimes, then who would dare?
But to keep the folk in constant fear,
Keep the master executioners near.
Let none kill in his stead, for that would be
To wield the knife in the master’s stead—
And no one who would for the master stand
Escapes with an uninjured hand.
– Moss Roberts