The beginning of the universe is the mother of all things.
Those who discover the mother understand the children.
Understanding the children and returning to the mother,
they live always free from harm.

Close the mouth, shut the doors,
and all of life is without strain.
Open the mouth, meddle with affairs,
and all of life is beyond help.

Seeing the small is insight;
to stay with the gentle is strength.
Use the Light, return to insight,
and thereby be preserved from harm.
This is practicing the eternal.

Those with even a scrap of sense
walk on the main way and fear only straying from the path.
The main way is smooth and easy,
but people like to be side-tracked.

While the courts are arrayed in splendor,
the fields are full of weeds,
and the granaries are empty.
Yet some wear embroidered clothes, carry sharp swords,
over-indulge themselves with food and drink,
and have more possessions than they can use.
They are leaders in robbery.
This is not the Way.

What is well established cannot be uprooted.
What is firmly held cannot slip away.
The power of sacrifice continues on
from generation to generation.

Cultivated in the person, power becomes real.
Cultivated in the family, power becomes abundant.
Cultivated in the community, power endures.
Cultivated in the nation, power flourishes.
Cultivated in the world, power becomes universal.

Therefore see the person as a person,
the family as a family, the community as a community,
the nation as a nation, and the world as universal.
How do I know that the world is like this?
By this.

Those filled with power are like new-born children.
Poisonous insects will not sting them;
ferocious beasts will not pounce upon them;
predatory birds will not swoop down on them.
Their bones are pliable, their muscles tender,
but their grip is firm.
They have never known the union of man and woman,
but the organ is fully formed,
meaning that the vital essence is strong.
They may cry all day without getting hoarse,
meaning that the harmony is perfect.
To know harmony is to be in accord with the eternal.
To know the eternal is to be enlightened.

To try to force life is ominous.
To force the vital essence with the mind is violence.
The prime is past, and decay follows,
meaning that it is contrary to the Way.
Whatever is contrary to the Way will soon perish.

Those who know do not speak.
Those who speak do not know.
Close the mouth; shut the doors.
Smooth the sharpness; untie the tangles.
Dim the glare; calm the turmoil.
This is mystical unity.
Those achieving it are detached from friends and enemies,
from benefit and harm, from honor and disgrace.
Therefore they are the most valuable people in the world.

States are governed by justice.
Wars are waged by violations.
The world is mastered by nonintervention.
How do I know this? By this:
the more restrictions there are, the poorer the people;
the more sharp weapons, the more trouble in the state;
the more clever cunning, the more contrivances;
the more rules and regulations, the more thieves and robbers.

Therefore the wise say,
"Do not interfere, and people transform themselves.
Love peace, and people do what is right.
Do not intervene, and people prosper.
Have no desires, and people live simply."

When the government is relaxed, people are happy.
When the government is strict, people are anxious.
Good fortune leans on bad fortune;
bad fortune hides behind good fortune.
Who knows the results of process?
Is there no justice?
When the just become unjust, goodness becomes evil.
People have been deluded for a long time.
Therefore the wise are square but not cornered,
sharp but not cutting, straight but not strained,
brilliant but not dazzling.

In leading people and serving heaven
it is best to be frugal.
Being frugal is to be prepared from the start.
Being prepared from the start is to build up power.
By building up power nothing is impossible.
If nothing is impossible, then there are no limits.
Those without limits are capable of leading a country.
Those with maternal leadership can long endure.
This is to be deeply rooted in a firm foundation,
the way of long life and eternal vision.

Leading a large country is like cooking a small fish.
When the world is led in accord with the Way,
spirits lose their powers.
It is not that they lose their powers,
but that their powers no longer harm people.
Not only do the spirits not harm people,
but the wise also do not harm people.
Not harming each other, spiritual power grows.