Chapter 70 The difficulty of being (rightly) known

吾言甚易知,甚易行。天下莫能知,莫能行。言有宗,事有君。夫唯無知,是以不我知。知我者希,則我者貴。是以聖人被褐懷玉。

1. My words are very easy to know, and very easy to practice; but there is no one in the world who is able to know and able to practice them.

2. There is an originating and all-comprehending (principle) in my words, and an authoritative law for the things (which I enforce). It is because they do not know these, that men do not know me.

3. They who know me are few, and I am on that account (the more) to be prized. It is thus that the sage wears (a poor garb of) hair cloth, while he carries his (signet of) jade in his bosom.

Derek Lin

My words are easy to understand, easy to practice
The world cannot understand, cannot practice
My words have basis
My actions have principle
People do not understand this
Therefore they do not understand me
Those who understand me are few
Thus I am highly valued
Therefore the sage wears plain clothes but holds jade

Peter Merel

My words are easy to understand
And my actions are easy to perform
Yet no other can understand or perform them.
My words have meaning; my actions have reason;
Yet these cannot be known and I cannot be known.
We are each unique, and therefore valuable;
Though the sage wears coarse clothes, his heart is jade.