Great governors make forthright plans,
Great generals make deceptive plans,
But great sages refuse to make any plans at all—
This is how they rule the world.
How is this a strategy for leadership?
Because the more plans and prohibitions we make,
The more the people grow impoverished,
And the more the powerful profit from war and weaponry,
The more the nation grows chaotic.
It seems that the more that crafty schemes
Are floated among the populace,
The more things fall apart.
By enacting more laws,
We create more criminals.
Hence the sage:
Doesn’t push anyone to improve,
And the people naturally transform themselves.
He presides peacefully,
And the people get along with each other.
He doesn’t meddle in their business,
And the people prosper.
He expects nothing from them,
And the people learn to live well.
You may order or download The Tao Te Ching here.
List of verses here