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Tao Te Ching Chapter 80 | Lao-Tzu | Comparative Translations

The Way of Virtue





In a little state with a small population, I would so order it, that, though there were individuals with the abilities of ten or a hundred men, there should be no employment of them; I would make the people, while looking on death as a grievous thing, yet not remove elsewhere (to avoid it).


Though they had boats and carriages, they should have no occasion to ride in them; though they had buff coats and sharp weapons, they should have no occasion to don or use them.


I would make the people return to the use of knotted cords (instead of the written characters).


They should think their (coarse) food sweet; their (plain) clothes beautiful; their (poor) dwellings places of rest; and their common (simple) ways sources of enjoyment.


There should be a neighbouring state within sight, and the voices of the fowls and dogs should be heard all the way from it to us, but I would make the people to old age, even to death, not have any intercourse with it.

If a country is governed wisely,

its inhabitants will be content.

They enjoy the labor of their hands

and don't waste time inventing

labor-saving machines.

Since they dearly love their homes,

they aren't interested in travel.

There may be a few wagons and boats,

but these don't go anywhere.

There may be an arsenal of weapons,

but nobody ever uses them.

People enjoy their food,

take pleasure in being with their families,

spend weekends working in their gardens,

delight in the doings of the neighborhood.

And even though the next country is so close

that people can hear its roosters crowing and its dogs barking,

they are content to die of old age

without ever having gone to see it.




Translated by J. Legge





Translated by Stephen Mitchell

















 

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