A few of the many other translations from Chapter 57 of the Tao te Ching

“Honesty governs the empire Cleverness overcomes without weapons Wisdom prevails through non-action.

How do I know this? Because this is how it is:

The more administrations and prohibitions there are the more force and poverty.

The more force and weapons there are the more unrest and resistance.

The more cunning and calculation there are the more craftiness and setbacks.

The more orders are given the more foes of order there are.

Hence the Sage speaks:

I practice non-action and the people do what is right of themselves.

I practice silence and the people calm down.

I practice non-interference and the people attain prosperity.

I practice gentleness and patience and the people attain harmony and simplicity.”

–  K.O Schmidt

“A realm is governed by ordinary acts,

A battle is governed by extraordinary acts;

The world is governed by no acts at all.

And how do I know?

This is how I know.

Act after act prohibits

Everything but poverty,

Weapon after weapon conquers

Everything but chaos,

Business after business provides

A craze of waste,

Law after law breeds

A multitude of thieves.

Therefore a sensible man says:

If I keep from meddling with people, they take care of themselves,

If I keep from commanding people, they behave themselves,

If I keep from preaching at people, they improve themselves,

If I keep from imposing on people, they become themselves.”

–   Witter Bynner

“By uprightness, govern the kingdom.

By rarely using soldiers

And by means of non-administration

Take the world.

By what means do I know this to be so?

By this:

The world greatly shuns and avoids [the poor]

And the people [remain] completely impoverished.

The people greatly sharpen weapons

[And] the kingdom and households grow dark.

The people [become] excessively crafty and clever

[And] strange things start [to happen].

Laws and directives are increasingly promulgated

[And thus] more robbers and thieves exist.

Therefore do the sages say:

I do not administer, and the people change themselves.

I am pleased with stillness, and the people correct themselves.

I do not [meddle in their] affairs, and the people grow rich by themselves.

I do not desire, and the people simplify themselves.”

–   Aalar Fex

“A state may be ruled by (measures of) correction; weapons of war may be used with crafty dexterity; (but) the kingdom is made one’s own (only) by freedom from action and purpose.

How do I know that it is so? By these facts:–In the kingdom the multiplication of prohibitive enactments increases the poverty of the people; the more implements to add to their profit that the people have, the greater disorder is there in the state and clan; the more acts of crafty dexterity that men possess, the more do strange contrivances appear; the more display there is of legislation, the more thieves and robbers there are.

Therefore a sage has said, ‘I will do nothing (of purpose), and the people will be transformed of themselves; I will be fond of keeping still, and the people will of themselves become correct. I will take no trouble about it, and the people will of themselves become rich; I will manifest no ambition, and the people will of themselves attain to the primitive simplicity.”

J. Legge

“Govern your country with integrity,

Weapons of war can be used with great cunning,

but loyalty is only won by not-doing.

How do I know the way things are?

By these:

The more prohibitions you make,

the poorer people will be.

The more weapons you posses,

the greater the chaos in your country.

The more knowledge that is acquired,

the stranger the world will become.

The more laws that you make,

the greater the number of criminals.

Therefore the Master says:

I do nothing,

and people become good by themselves.

I seek peace,

and people take care of their own problems.

I do not meddle in their personal lives,

and the people become prosperous.

I let go of all my desires,

and the people return to the Uncarved Block.”

– J H McDonald

“Rule a kingdom by the Normal.

Fight a battle by ( abnormal) tactics of surprise.

Win the world by doing nothing.

How do I know it is so?

Through this: –

The more prohibitions there are,

The poorer the people become.

The more sharp weapons there are,

The greater the chaos in the state.

The more skills of technique,

The more cunning things are produced.

The greater the number of statutes,

The greater the number of thieves and brigands.

Therefore the sage says:

I do nothing and the people are reformed of themselves.

I love quietude and the people are righteous of themselves.

I deal in no business and the people grow rich by themselves.

I have no desires and the people are simple

and honest by themselves.”

– Lin Yutang