In knowing and teaching the ways of Tao,
The sage eschews the use of force,
For he knows it will only incur retaliation.
Where armies encamp, only thorny bushes will grow.
Great wars are followed by famine.
Thus, when fighting cannot be avoided,
The sage does only what is necessary,
And halts immediately thereafter.
He does not seek power for its own sake,
He achieves but is not arrogant,
He is resolute but not proud,
He fights only with reluctance,
He overcomes without dominating his opponent.
Though force may bring about a quicker triumph,
It will also sow the seeds of disaster.
Force runs contrary to Tao,
And so culminates in catastrophe.
You may order or download The Tao Te Ching here.
List of verses here