Peace is easily maintained;
Trouble is easily overcome before it starts.
The brittle is easily shattered;
The small is easily scattered.
Deal with things before they happen.
Put things in order before there is confusion.
A tree as great as a man’s embrace springs from a small shoot;
A terrace nine stories high begins with a pile of earth;
A journey of a thousand miles starts under one’s feet.
Those who act defeat their own purpose;
Those who grasp lose.
The wise do not act and so are not defeated.
They do not grasp and therefore do not lose.
People usually fail when they are on the verge of success.
So give as much care to the end as to the beginning;
Then there will be no failure.
Therefore the wise seek freedom from desire.
They do not collect precious things.
They learn not to hold onto ideas.
They bring people back to what they have lost.
They help the ten thousand things find their own nature,
Yet they refrain from action.