Chapter 36 Minimizing the light

將欲歙之,必固張之;將欲弱之,必固強之;將欲廢之,必固興之;將欲奪之,必固與之。是謂微明。柔弱勝剛強。魚不可脫於淵,國之利器不可以示人。

1. When one is about to take an inspiration, he is sure to make a (previous) expiration; when he is going to weaken another, he will first strengthen him; when he is going to overthrow another, he will first have raised him up; when he is going to despoil another, he will first have made gifts to him: — this is called ‘Hiding the light (of his procedure).’

2. The soft overcomes the hard; and the weak the strong.

3. Fishes should not be taken from the deep; instruments for the profit of a state should not be shown to the people.

Derek Lin
If one wishes to shrink it
One must first expand it
If one wishes to weaken it
One must first strengthen it
If one wishes to discard it
One must first promote it
If one wishes to seize it
One must first give it
This is called subtle clarity

The soft and weak overcomes the tough and strong
Fish cannot leave the depths
The sharp instruments of the state
Cannot be shown to the people

Peter Merel

To reduce someone’s influence, first expand it;
To reduce someone’s force, first increase it;
To overthrow someone, first exalt them;
To take from someone, first give to them.
This is the subtlety by which the weak overcome the strong:
Fish should not leave their depths,
And swords should not leave their scabbards.