Dao De Jing, Laozi
I would walk the Great Way,
And my only fear
would be to lose my way from it.
The Great Way is very smooth and straight;
And yet the people like better the complicated paths.
The courtyard is very clean and well decorated,
(Their cities appear powerful.)
But the fields are very weedy and wild,
And the grain silo's are very empty!
(But they have lost the skill to feed themselves.)
They wear beautiful clothes,
(They value appearances over substance.)
They carry destructive weapons,
They use the tools of destruction to get their needs.)
They over fill themselves with food and drink,
(They indulge themselves in the fruits of the conquered.)
They own more riches than they can use!
(They are greedy.)
They are the messengers of lawlessness!
As for Tao (the Laws of the Universe),
what do they know about it?"
- Translated by John Trottier, Chapter 53
"This little I know:
In moving toward the Grand Direction, the only fear is moving astray.
The Grand Direction is straight forward; still, people go astray.
The court is not filled; the field is not tilled.
Storehouses are empty, but gorgeous gowns are aplenty.
Bearing sharp swords, tired of exquisite boards,
With wealth to the burst, they are bandits at their worst.
This is not Direction."
- Translated by David H. Li, Chapter 53
"Let our resolve here be this: to be understanding
To travel upon the great way
(With) only distractions to fear
The great way is so very ordinary
And the people love the detours
The courts are so very well kept
The fields, so very weedy
The granaries, so very empty
The clothes, refined & elaborate
Sharp swords worn at the waist
A glut of drinking & feasting
Wealth & goods kept in heaps
This describes robbery & bombast
Surely not the way at all."
- Translated by Bradford Hatcher, Chapter 53
"If I have a grain of wisdom,
I walk along the great Tao
And fear only to stray.
The great Tao is easy indeed,
But the people choose by-paths.
The court is very resplendent;
Very weedy are the fields,
And the granaries very empty.
They wear gaudy clothes,
Carry sharp swords,
Exceed in eating and drinking,
Have riches more than they can use.
Call them robber-braggarts:
They are anti-Tao indeed!"
- Translated by Herrymoon Maurer, Chapter 53
"Grant me this: to firmly know
That in walking the great high Way
I shall fear only to deviate
From the high way plain and fair;
For to byways men are lightly drawn.
The court is richly blessed,
But the farm fields are wasting,
And the bins bare of grain;
And courtiers dress in elegance,
Bear well-honed swords,
Gorge on food and drink –
This superflux of wealth and goods
Is the piper’s tune for thieves,
The negation of the Way."
- Translated by Moss Roberts, Chapter 53