Don’t elevate the outstanding:
They your subjects will not contend.
Don’t value hard-to-get goods:
They your subjects will not act as thieves.
Don’t display the desirable:
They your subjects’ minds will not be muddled.
Using these: The way a sage maintains order:
Empties their minds,
Stuffs their guts,
Weakens their resolve,
And strengthens their bones.
He fixes on making his subjects lack both knowing and desiring.
Makes the wise not presume to act on constructs.
Act on the construct “lack acting on constructs”.
Then nothing is ordered.
Tao Te Ching - translated by Chad Hansen
When all the social world regards beauty as “beauty”,
Here already is “ugly”.
If all treat mastery as “being good at” things,
Here already is “not being good at” things.
Thus “presence” and “absence” mutually sprout.
“Hard” and “easy” mutually inform.
“Long” and “short” are mutually gauged.
“High” and “low” mutually incline.
“Sound” and “tone” mutually blend.
“Before” and “after” mutually follow on.
Using this: sages don’t act on constructs in addressing affairs;
They practise a “don’t-use-language” teaching.
10,000 natural kinds are made by it
Yet don’t express anything.
Sprouting, you don’t treat them as “existing”.
Acting on constructs, you don’t rely on anything.
Success taking form, you don’t dwell on it.
In general, they simply don’t dwell on it,
And in that, they don’t lose it.
Tao Te Ching, translated by Chad Hansen
Ways can be guided; they are not fixed ways.
Names can be named; they are not fixed names.
“Absence” names the cosmic horizon,
“Presence” names the mother of 10,000 natural kinds.
Fixing on “absence” is to want to view enigmas.
Fixing on “presence” is to want to view phenomena.
These two, emerging together, we name differently.
Conceiving of them as being one: call that “fathomless”.
Calling it “fathomless” is still not to fathom it.
… the door to a cluster of puzzles
"Tao Te Ching on the Art of Harmony" illustrated edition; translated by Chad Hansen
The molecules in your body are the same ones that burn in the stars themselves. We are star stuff. We are the universe, made manifest, trying to figure itself out.