Chapter 37 How to exercise government.
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(Version and commentary of He Shanggong in English)


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(⁎)
(Ⅱ)
(Ⅲ)
(Ⅳ)
(Ⅴ)
(Ⅵ)
(Ⅶ)
(Ⅷ)


37. 1  
Tao is always without action, and nothing remains undone.

Tao by means of non-action effects the eternal.

If the princes and the king were able to retain it, all things would change spontaneously.

This means: If the princes and the king were able to retain Tao, all things would spontaneously change into their selves.

If they change and want to rise, the ego will suppress them by means of the simplicity of the nameless.

The ego is the personality. The simplicity of the nameless is Tao. If all beings change into their selves, but afterwards revert to desire and exhibit shrewdness and hypocrisy, the princes and the king are obliged to suppress personality by means of Tao and Te.

The simplicity of the nameless will neither have desires. As there are no desires, there will be peace.

This means: If the princes and the king suppress them with Tao and Te, the people will neither have desires. Therefore they must be changed by means of purity and quietness.

The empire will spontaneously become rectified.

If one is able to resemble this, the empire will spontaneously become corrected.

- Chinese :

《道德經》: 道常無為而無不為。侯王若能守之,萬物將自化。化而欲作,吾將鎮之以無名之樸。無名之樸,夫亦將無欲。不欲以靜,天下將自定。

《老子河上公章句·為政》: 道常無為而無不為。侯王若能守之,萬物將自化。化而欲作,吾將鎮之以無名之樸。無名之樸,夫亦將無欲。不欲以靜,天下將自定。

《郭店·老子甲》: 道恒亡為也,侯王能守之,而萬物將自化。化而欲作,將正之以亡名之樸。夫亦將知,知足以靜,萬物將自定。

《馬王堆·老子甲道經》: 道恆無名。侯王若守之,萬物將自𢡺。𢡺而欲□□□□□□□名之楃。□□□名之楃,夫將不辱。不辱以情,天地將自正。

《馬王堆·老子乙道經》: 道恆無名。侯王若能守之,萬物將自化。化而欲作,吾將闐之以無名之樸。闐之以無名之樸,夫將不辱。不辱以靜,天地將自正。
(⁎)
- He Shanggong (Chinese) :

道常無為而無不為。道以無為為常也。侯王若能守之,萬物將自化。言侯王若能守道,萬物將自化效於己也。化而欲作,吾將鎮之以無名之樸。吾,身也。無明之樸,道德也。萬物已化效於己也。 復欲作巧偽者,侯王當身鎮撫以道德也。無名之樸,夫亦將無欲。不欲以靜,言侯王鎮撫以道德,民亦將不欲,故當以清靜導化之也。天下將自定。能如是者,天下將自正定也。
(Ⅱ)
- Wing-Tsit Chan (1963) :

Tao invariably takes no action, and yet there is nothing left undone.
If kings and barons can keep it, all things will transform spontaneously. If, after transformation, they should desire to be active, I would restrain them with simplicity, which has no name.
Simplicity, which has no name, is free of desires, Being free of desires, it is tranquil. And the world will be at peace of its own accord.
(Ⅲ)
- Ellen Marie Chen (1989) :

Tao everlasting (ch'ang) does not act (wu wei),
And yet nothing is not done (erh wu pu wei).
If kings and barons can abide by (shou) it,
The ten thousand things will transform by themselves (tzu hua).
If in transforming desire (yü) is aroused,
I shall suppress it by the nameless uncarved wood (p'u).
With the nameless uncarved wood,
There shall be no desire (wu yü).
Without desire there is thus quietude (ching).
The world shall be self-ordered (tzu ting).
(Ⅳ)
- Ch'u Ta-Kao (1904) :

Tao is ever inactive, and yet there is nothing that it does not do.
If princes and kings could keep to it, all things would of themselves become developed. When they are developed, desire would stir in them; I would restrain them by the nameless Simplicity, In order to make them free from desire.
Free from desire, they would be at rest; And the world would of itself become rectified. However insignificant Simplicity seems, the whole world cannot make it submissive. If princes and kings could keep to it, All things in the world would of themselves pay homage. Heaven and earth would unite to send down sweet dew. The people with no one to command them would of themselves become harmonious. When merits are accomplished and affairs completed, The people would speak of themselves as following nature.
(Ⅴ)
- World by world translation :

Traditional // simplified // pinyin // definition // dictionary
道 // 道 // dào // ① doctrine, raison ② voie ③ dire ④ circuit, intendance // Chinese-French
道 // 道 // dào // ① road ② path ③ CL:條|条[tiao2],股[gu3] ④ principle ⑤ truth ⑥ morality ⑦ reason ⑧ skill ⑨ method ⑩ Dao (of Daoism) ⑪ to say ⑫ to speak ⑬ to talk ⑭ classifier for long thin things (rivers, cracks etc), barriers (walls, doors etc), questions (in an exam etc), commands, courses in a meal, steps in a process ⑮ (old) administrative division (similar to province in Tang times) // CC-CEDICT
常 // 常 // cháng // ① souvent ② fréquemment ③ ordinaire ④ commun ⑤ constant ⑥ invariable // Chinese-French
常 // 常 // cháng // ① surname Chang // CC-CEDICT
常 // 常 // cháng // ① always ② ever ③ often ④ frequently ⑤ common ⑥ general ⑦ constant // CC-CEDICT
無為 // 无为 // wú wéi // ① Wuwei county in Chaohu 巢湖[Chao2 hu2], Anhui // CC-CEDICT
無為 // 无为 // wú wéi // ① the Daoist doctrine of inaction ② let things take their own course ③ laissez-faire // CC-CEDICT
而 // 而 // ér // ① et ② mais ③ tandis que ④ alors que // Chinese-French
而 // 而 // ér // ① and ② as well as ③ and so ④ but (not) ⑤ yet (not) ⑥ (indicates causal relation) ⑦ (indicates change of state) ⑧ (indicates contrast) // CC-CEDICT
無不 // 无不 // wú bù // ① none lacking ② none missing ③ everything is there ④ everyone without exception // CC-CEDICT
為 // 为 // wèi // ① because of ② for ③ to // CC-CEDICT
為 // 为 // wéi // ① as (in the capacity of) ② to take sth as ③ to act as ④ to serve as ⑤ to behave as ⑥ to become ⑦ to be ⑧ to do ⑨ by (in the passive voice) // CC-CEDICT
侯 // 侯 // hóu // ① marquis ② noble ou haut fonctionnaire // Chinese-French
侯 // 侯 // hóu // ① surname Hou // CC-CEDICT
侯 // 侯 // hóu // ① marquis, second of the five orders of ancient Chinese nobility 五等爵位[wu3 deng3 jue2 wei4] ② nobleman or high official // CC-CEDICT
王 // 王 // wáng // ① roi ② prince ③ (nom de famille) // Chinese-French
王 // 王 // wáng // ① surname Wang // CC-CEDICT
王 // 王 // wáng // ① king or monarch ② best or strongest of its type ③ grand ④ great // CC-CEDICT
王 // 王 // wàng // ① régner sur // Chinese-French
王 // 王 // wàng // ① to rule ② to reign over // CC-CEDICT
若 // 若 // ruò // ① si ② comme // Chinese-French
若 // 若 // ruò // ① to seem ② like ③ as ④ if // CC-CEDICT
能 // 能 // néng // ① capacité ② énergie ③ pouvoir ④ être capable de // Chinese-French
能 // 能 // néng // ① surname Neng // CC-CEDICT
能 // 能 // néng // ① can ② to be able to ③ might possibly ④ ability ⑤ (physics) energy // CC-CEDICT
守 // 守 // shǒu // ① garder ② défendre ③ monter la garde ④ respecter (une règle) ⑤ être proche de // Chinese-French
守 // 守 // shǒu // ① to guard ② to defend ③ to keep watch ④ to abide by the law ⑤ to observe (rules or ritual) ⑥ nearby ⑦ adjoining // CC-CEDICT
之 // 之 // zhī // ① (remplaçant une personne ou une chose comme complément) ② (particule possessive dans différentes expressions) // Chinese-French
之 // 之 // zhī // ① (possessive particle, literary equivalent of 的[de5]) ② him ③ her ④ it // CC-CEDICT
萬物 // 万物 // wàn wù // ① tous les êtres vivants // Chinese-French
萬物 // 万物 // wàn wù // ① all living things // CC-CEDICT
將 // 将 // jiāng // ① avec ② par ③ au moyen de ④ (suivi du COD, qui est suivi à son tour d'un verbe transitif, pour former l'inversion) // Chinese-French
將 // 将 // jiāng // ① will ② shall ③ to use ④ to take ⑤ to checkmate ⑥ just a short while ago ⑦ (introduces object of main verb, used in the same way as 把[ba3]) // CC-CEDICT
將 // 将 // jiàng // ① général // Chinese-French
將 // 将 // jiàng // ① general ② commander-in-chief (military) ③ king (chess piece) ④ to command ⑤ to lead // CC-CEDICT
將 // 将 // qiāng // ① to desire ② to invite ③ to request // CC-CEDICT
自 // 自 // zì // ① depuis ② à partir de ③ soi-même ④ naturellement // Chinese-French
自 // 自 // zì // ① self ② oneself ③ from ④ since ⑤ naturally ⑥ surely // CC-CEDICT
化 // 化 // huà // ① changer ② transformer ③ fondre ④ digérer ⑤ se transformer en imitant un modèle ⑥ éduquer ⑦ transformer les moeurs ⑧ convertir ⑨ (suffixe) -fier ⑩ -iser // Chinese-French
化 // 化 // huà // ① to make into ② to change into ③ -ization ④ to ... -ize ⑤ to transform ⑥ abbr. for 化學|化学[hua4 xue2] // CC-CEDICT
化 // 化 // huā // ① variant of 花[hua1] // CC-CEDICT
化 // 化 // huà // ① changer ② transformer ③ fondre ④ digérer ⑤ se transformer en imitant un modèle ⑥ éduquer ⑦ transformer les moeurs ⑧ convertir ⑨ (suffixe) -fier ⑩ -iser // Chinese-French
化 // 化 // huà // ① to make into ② to change into ③ -ization ④ to ... -ize ⑤ to transform ⑥ abbr. for 化學|化学[hua4 xue2] // CC-CEDICT
化 // 化 // huā // ① variant of 花[hua1] // CC-CEDICT
而 // 而 // ér // ① et ② mais ③ tandis que ④ alors que // Chinese-French
而 // 而 // ér // ① and ② as well as ③ and so ④ but (not) ⑤ yet (not) ⑥ (indicates causal relation) ⑦ (indicates change of state) ⑧ (indicates contrast) // CC-CEDICT
欲 // 欲 // yù // ① envie ② désir ③ désirer ④ vouloir // Chinese-French
欲 // 欲 // yù // ① to wish for ② to desire ③ variant of 慾|欲[yu4] // CC-CEDICT
慾 // 欲 // yù // ① desire ② appetite ③ passion ④ lust ⑤ greed // CC-CEDICT
作 // 作 // zuò // ① faire ② apparaître ③ rédiger ④ ouvrage ⑤ oeuvre ⑥ considérer comme // Chinese-French
作 // 作 // zuò // ① to do ② to grow ③ to write or compose ④ to pretend ⑤ to regard as ⑥ to feel ⑦ writings or works // CC-CEDICT
作 // 作 // zuō // ① worker ② workshop ③ (slang) troublesome ④ high-maintenance (person) // CC-CEDICT
吾 // 吾 // wú // ① je ② mon // Chinese-French
吾 // 吾 // wú // ① surname Wu // CC-CEDICT
吾 // 吾 // wú // ① I ② my (old) // CC-CEDICT
將 // 将 // jiāng // ① avec ② par ③ au moyen de ④ (suivi du COD, qui est suivi à son tour d'un verbe transitif, pour former l'inversion) // Chinese-French
將 // 将 // jiāng // ① will ② shall ③ to use ④ to take ⑤ to checkmate ⑥ just a short while ago ⑦ (introduces object of main verb, used in the same way as 把[ba3]) // CC-CEDICT
將 // 将 // jiàng // ① général // Chinese-French
將 // 将 // jiàng // ① general ② commander-in-chief (military) ③ king (chess piece) ④ to command ⑤ to lead // CC-CEDICT
將 // 将 // qiāng // ① to desire ② to invite ③ to request // CC-CEDICT
鎮 // 镇 // zhèn // ① réprimer ② presser ③ garder ④ bourg // Chinese-French
鎮 // 镇 // zhèn // ① to press down ② to calm ③ to subdue ④ to suppress ⑤ to guard ⑥ garrison ⑦ small town ⑧ to cool or chill (food or drinks) // CC-CEDICT
之 // 之 // zhī // ① (remplaçant une personne ou une chose comme complément) ② (particule possessive dans différentes expressions) // Chinese-French
之 // 之 // zhī // ① (possessive particle, literary equivalent of 的[de5]) ② him ③ her ④ it // CC-CEDICT
以 // 以 // yǐ // ① prendre ② utiliser ③ selon ④ à cause de ⑤ pour // Chinese-French
以 // 以 // yǐ // ① abbr. for Israel 以色列[Yi3 se4 lie4] // CC-CEDICT
以 // 以 // yǐ // ① to use ② by means of ③ according to ④ in order to ⑤ because of ⑥ at (a certain date or place) // CC-CEDICT
㕥 // 以 // yǐ // ① old variant of 以[yi3] // CC-CEDICT
㠯 // 以 // yǐ // ① old variant of 以[yi3] // CC-CEDICT
無名 // 无名 // wú míng // ① inconnu ② anonyme ③ accidentel // Chinese-French
無名 // 无名 // wú míng // ① nameless ② obscure // CC-CEDICT
之 // 之 // zhī // ① (remplaçant une personne ou une chose comme complément) ② (particule possessive dans différentes expressions) // Chinese-French
之 // 之 // zhī // ① (possessive particle, literary equivalent of 的[de5]) ② him ③ her ④ it // CC-CEDICT
樸 // 朴 // pǔ // ① simple // Chinese-French
樸 // 朴 // pǔ // ① plain and simple ② Taiwan pr. [pu2] // CC-CEDICT
無名 // 无名 // wú míng // ① inconnu ② anonyme ③ accidentel // Chinese-French
無名 // 无名 // wú míng // ① nameless ② obscure // CC-CEDICT
之 // 之 // zhī // ① (remplaçant une personne ou une chose comme complément) ② (particule possessive dans différentes expressions) // Chinese-French
之 // 之 // zhī // ① (possessive particle, literary equivalent of 的[de5]) ② him ③ her ④ it // CC-CEDICT
樸 // 朴 // pǔ // ① simple // Chinese-French
樸 // 朴 // pǔ // ① plain and simple ② Taiwan pr. [pu2] // CC-CEDICT
夫 // 夫 // fū // ① mari // Chinese-French
夫 // 夫 // fū // ① husband ② man ③ manual worker ④ conscripted laborer (old) // CC-CEDICT
夫 // 夫 // fú // ① (classical) this, that ② he, she, they ③ (exclamatory final particle) ④ (initial particle, introduces an opinion) // CC-CEDICT
亦 // 亦 // yì // ① aussi ② également // Chinese-French
亦 // 亦 // yì // ① also // CC-CEDICT
將 // 将 // jiāng // ① avec ② par ③ au moyen de ④ (suivi du COD, qui est suivi à son tour d'un verbe transitif, pour former l'inversion) // Chinese-French
將 // 将 // jiāng // ① will ② shall ③ to use ④ to take ⑤ to checkmate ⑥ just a short while ago ⑦ (introduces object of main verb, used in the same way as 把[ba3]) // CC-CEDICT
將 // 将 // jiàng // ① général // Chinese-French
將 // 将 // jiàng // ① general ② commander-in-chief (military) ③ king (chess piece) ④ to command ⑤ to lead // CC-CEDICT
將 // 将 // qiāng // ① to desire ② to invite ③ to request // CC-CEDICT
無 // 无 // wú // ① non ② 71e radical // Chinese-French
無 // 无 // wú // ① not to have ② no ③ none ④ not ⑤ to lack ⑥ un- ⑦ -less // CC-CEDICT
欲 // 欲 // yù // ① envie ② désir ③ désirer ④ vouloir // Chinese-French
欲 // 欲 // yù // ① to wish for ② to desire ③ variant of 慾|欲[yu4] // CC-CEDICT
慾 // 欲 // yù // ① desire ② appetite ③ passion ④ lust ⑤ greed // CC-CEDICT
不 // 不 // bù // ① ne... pas ② non ③ (pour former une question placé à la fin d'une phrase, pour indiquer l'indifférence avec shen me ④ pour indiquer une alternative avec jiu) // Chinese-French
不 // 不 // bù // ① (negative prefix) ② not ③ no // CC-CEDICT
欲 // 欲 // yù // ① envie ② désir ③ désirer ④ vouloir // Chinese-French
欲 // 欲 // yù // ① to wish for ② to desire ③ variant of 慾|欲[yu4] // CC-CEDICT
慾 // 欲 // yù // ① desire ② appetite ③ passion ④ lust ⑤ greed // CC-CEDICT
以 // 以 // yǐ // ① prendre ② utiliser ③ selon ④ à cause de ⑤ pour // Chinese-French
以 // 以 // yǐ // ① abbr. for Israel 以色列[Yi3 se4 lie4] // CC-CEDICT
以 // 以 // yǐ // ① to use ② by means of ③ according to ④ in order to ⑤ because of ⑥ at (a certain date or place) // CC-CEDICT
㕥 // 以 // yǐ // ① old variant of 以[yi3] // CC-CEDICT
㠯 // 以 // yǐ // ① old variant of 以[yi3] // CC-CEDICT
靜 // 静 // jìng // ① calme ② silencieux // Chinese-French
靜 // 静 // jìng // ① still ② calm ③ quiet ④ not moving // CC-CEDICT
天下 // 天下 // tiān xià // ① empire céleste // Chinese-French
天下 // 天下 // tiān xià // ① land under heaven ② the whole world ③ the whole of China ④ realm ⑤ rule // CC-CEDICT
將 // 将 // jiāng // ① avec ② par ③ au moyen de ④ (suivi du COD, qui est suivi à son tour d'un verbe transitif, pour former l'inversion) // Chinese-French
將 // 将 // jiāng // ① will ② shall ③ to use ④ to take ⑤ to checkmate ⑥ just a short while ago ⑦ (introduces object of main verb, used in the same way as 把[ba3]) // CC-CEDICT
將 // 将 // jiàng // ① général // Chinese-French
將 // 将 // jiàng // ① general ② commander-in-chief (military) ③ king (chess piece) ④ to command ⑤ to lead // CC-CEDICT
將 // 将 // qiāng // ① to desire ② to invite ③ to request // CC-CEDICT
自 // 自 // zì // ① depuis ② à partir de ③ soi-même ④ naturellement // Chinese-French
自 // 自 // zì // ① self ② oneself ③ from ④ since ⑤ naturally ⑥ surely // CC-CEDICT
定 // 定 // dìng // ① décider ② fixer ③ tranquille ④ calme ⑤ fixe ⑥ déterminé // Chinese-French
定 // 定 // dìng // ① to set ② to fix ③ to determine ④ to decide ⑤ to order // CC-CEDICT
(Ⅵ)
- Yi Wu (1989) :

The eternal Way serves everything by doing nothing.
If the kings can keep the model,
A natural order will appear in the world.
Should something undesirable grow after that,
Prevent it with the nameless simplicity.
By saying "the nameless simplicity,"
I mean the reduction of vain desires.
Vain desires can be reduced by serenity of mind,
And the world can then be back in the Way.
(Ⅶ)
- Lynn (2004) :

The Dao in its constancy engages in no conscious action,
Yet nothing remains undone.
If any lord or prince could hold on to it, the myriad folk would undergo moral transformation spontaneously.
Once nurtured, should desire arise, I would press down on it with the nameless uncarved block.
With the nameless uncarved block, they too would stay free of desire.
Achieving tranquillity by keeping them free of desire, all under Heaven would govern themselves.
(Ⅷ)


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