"The people do not fear death,
Why threaten them with death?
Suppose the people always fear death,
One who does strange things (ch'i),
I shall seize and kill,
Then who dares [to do strange things]?
Killing is carried out by the executioner.
To replace the executioner and kill,
Is like chopping wood in place of the master carpenter.
To chop wood in place of the master carpenter,
Rarely one does not hurt one's own hand."
- Translation by Ellen M. Chen, Chapter 74
"If people don't love life, they won't fear death, and threatening them with it won't work.
If people have lives worth living, then the threat of death is meaningful, and they'll do what is right to avoid it.
But killing itself should be the province of the great executioner alone.
Trying to take his place and kill is like cutting wood in the place of the master carpenter:
The odds are you'll hurt your own hand."
- Translation by Brian Walker, Chapter 74
"If people are not afraid of death,
how can they be threatened by it?
But if they always live in fear of death,
and still continue in their lawlessness,
we can arrest and kill them.
Who then would dare?
And yet there is a Lord of Death whose charge it is to kill.
To take his place and kill would be like carving wood in place of the master carpenter.
Few would escape without injuring their hands."
- Translated by Tim Chilcott, 2005, Chapter 74
"If people are not afraid to die, how death can be used to threaten them?
If we make people afraid of death, and execute a few extreme offenders, who would dare to offend again?
It is normal to have executioners who kill.
Substituting an executioner in killing is like substituting a master lumberjack in chopping trees.
Chopping trees by non-professionals rarely results in no hand injuries."
- Translated by Thomas Z. Zhang, Chapter 74
"If people were content with their own deaths
You could not use force on them; they would be immune
But this is not the way the world is
If you threaten them with death to make them behave
You must assign someone to kill them, or do it yourself
Who, then, kills: you, or the executioner, or the state?
Someone must take the responsibility
Whoever is responsible for death has put his way above the tao
Yet though he can end a life, the tao will by its nature find a way to return
Any sane man would find in that cause for worry."
- Translated by Ted Wrigley, Chapter 74
"When the people are not afraid of death, wherefore frighten them with death?
Were the people always afraid of death, and were I able to arrest and put to death those who innovate, then who would dare?
There is a regular executioner whose charge it is to kill.
To kill on behalf of the executioner is what is described as chopping wood on behalf of the master carpenter.
In chopping wood on behalf of the master carpenter, there are few who escape hurting their own hands instead."
- Translated by D. C. Lau, 1963, Chapter 74
"If people have no fear of death
It's pointless to threaten them with it.
If people were in constant fear of death,
And if anyone acting deviously
Were to be seized and executed,
Who would dare to do so?
The Master Executioner is always there to kill.
If you attempt to play his role
It is like trying to do the work of a master lumberjack.
The one who has no skill to do this work
Seldom escapes with his hands unhurt."
- Translated by Angieszka Solska, 2005, Chapter 74
If there is someone who doesn't fear death, why threaten to kill them?
If people did fear death and one were to capture and kill the devious few, who would dare to be devious?:
Iff the people are always at risk of execution, there will never lack an executioner.
Now, to kill like an executioner is like-hacking at wood.
Instead of masterful carpentry, few are there who can escape cutting their own hands!"
- Translated by Jerry C. Welch, 1998, Chapter 74