Chapter 53 Increase of evidence


1. If I were suddenly to become known, and (put into a position to) conduct (a government) according to the Great Tao, what I should be most afraid of would be a boastful display.

2. The great Tao (or way) is very level and easy; but people love the by-ways.

3. Their court(-yards and buildings) shall be well kept, but their fields shall be ill-cultivated, and their granaries very empty. They shall wear elegant and ornamented robes, carry a sharp sword at their girdle, pamper themselves in eating and drinking, and have a superabundance of property and wealth; — such (princes) may be called robbers and boasters. This is contrary to the Tao surely!

Derek Lin
If I have a little knowledge
Walking on the great Tao
I fear only to deviate from it
The great Tao is broad and plain
But people like the side paths

The courts are corrupt
The fields are barren
The warehouses are empty

Officials wear fineries
Carry sharp swords
Fill up on drinks and food
Acquire excessive wealth

This is called robbery
It is not the Tao!

Peter Merel

With but a small understanding
One may follow the Way like a main road,
Fearing only to leave it;
Following a main road is easy,
Yet people delight in difficult paths.
When palaces are kept up
Fields are left to weeds
And granaries empty;
Wearing fine clothes,
Bearing sharp swords,
Glutting with food and drink,
Hoarding wealth and possessions –
These are the ways of theft,
And far from the Way.