Chapter 60 How to remain on the throne.
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(Version and commentary of He Shanggong in English)


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60. 1  
Rule a large country as if you were cooking small fish.

Hsien 鮮 are fishes 魚. When cooking small fishes, the intestines are not taken out and the scales not scraped off. One does not dare to scratch them, for fear that they might go to pieces. When in governing a country one causes trouble, then the subjects will become confused. When in practising asceticism one causes trouble, then the spirit will become distrait.

When one manages the Empire with Tao, its demons do not appear.

If one stays with Tao and Te on the throne, thus managing the empire, then the demons do not dare to make their spirituality visible in order to make men rebellious.

Not only do its demons not appear; its ghosts also do not hurt men.

Not only do its demons not show their spirituality, but wickedness does not enter goodness and is not able to hurt the nature of the people.

Not only do its demons not hurt men, but neither does the saint hurt men.

Not only are its demons and spirits not able to hurt anybody, but also by the saint on the throne nobody is hurt. Therefore the demons do not risk giving offence.

Now when both do not hurt each other,

The demons and the saint, both of them do not hurt each other.

then Te will unite and return.

As both do not hurt each other, man is able to govern the Yang, and the demon is able to govern the Yin. Man is able to fulfil his natural destiny, and the demon is able to save his spirituality. Therefore Te unites and returns.

- Chinese :

《道德經》: 治大國若烹小鮮。以道蒞天下,其鬼不神;非其鬼不神,其神不傷人;非其神不傷人,聖人亦不傷人。夫兩不相傷,故德交歸焉。

《老子河上公章句·居位》: 治大國者若烹小鮮。以道蒞天下,其鬼不神。非其鬼不神,其神不傷人。非其神不傷人,聖人亦不傷。夫兩不相傷,故德交歸焉。

《馬王堆·老子甲德經》: □□□□□□□□□□天下,其鬼不神;非其鬼不神也,其神不傷人也;非其申不傷人也,聖人亦弗傷□。□□不相□,□德交歸焉。

《馬王堆·老子乙德經》: 治大國若亨小鮮。以道立天下,其鬼不神;非其鬼不神也,其神不傷人也;非其神不傷人也,□□□弗傷也。夫兩□相傷,故德交歸焉。
(⁎)
- He Shanggong (Chinese) :

治大國者若烹小鮮。鮮,魚。 烹小魚不去腸、不去鱗、不敢撓,恐其糜也。 治國煩則下亂,治身煩則精散。以道蒞天下,其鬼不神。以道德居位治天下,則鬼不敢以其精神犯人也。非其鬼不神,其神不傷人。其鬼非無精神也,非不入正,不能傷自然之人。非其神不傷人,聖人亦不傷。非鬼神不能傷害人。以聖人在位不傷害人,故鬼不敢干之也。夫兩不相傷,鬼與聖人俱兩不相傷也。故德交歸焉。夫兩不相傷,則人得治於陽,鬼神得治於陰,人得保全其性命,鬼得保其精神,故德交歸焉。
(Ⅱ)
- Wing-Tsit Chan (1963) :

Ruling a big country is like cooking a small fish.
If Tao is employed to rule the empire, Spiritual beings will lose their supernatural power.
Not that they lose their spiritual power, But their spiritual power can no longer harm people. Not only will their supernatural power not harm people, But the sage also will not harm people.
When both do not harm each other, Virtue will be accumulated in both for the benefit (of the people).
(Ⅲ)
- Ellen Marie Chen (1989) :

Governing a great state,
Is like cooking small fish.
If you rule the world by Tao,
The ghosts (kuei) will lose their spiritual (shen) power.
Not that the ghosts lose their spiritual power,
But their spiritual power will not harm the people.
Not that their spiritual power will not harm the people,
But neither does the sage harm the people.
Since both are harmless,
Te flows back and forth [without impediment].
(Ⅳ)
- Ch'u Ta-Kao (1904) :

Govern a great state as you would cook a small fish (do it gently).
Let Tao reign over the world, and no spirits will show their ghostly powers.
Not that the spirits have no more powers,
But their powers will not harm men.
Nor will the Sage harm the people.
Inasmuch as none of them harms anybody,
Therefore virtue belongs to them both.
(Ⅴ)
- World by world translation :

Traditional // simplified // pinyin // definition // dictionary
治大國若烹小鮮 // 治大国若烹小鲜 // zhì dà guó ruò pēng xiǎo xiān // ① ruling a large nation is like cooking a small delicacy (idiom) ② effective government requires minimal intervention // 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
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
蒞 // 莅 // lì // ① gouverner // Chinese-French
蒞 // 莅 // lì // ① to attend (an official function) ② to be present ③ to administer ④ to approach (esp. as administrator) // 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
其 // 其 // qí // ① son ② sa ③ ses ④ leur ⑤ leurs ⑥ il(s) ⑦ elle(s) ⑧ ceci ⑨ cela // Chinese-French
其 // 其 // qí // ① his ② her ③ its ④ their ⑤ that ⑥ such ⑦ it (refers to sth preceding it) // CC-CEDICT
鬼 // 鬼 // guǐ // ① fantôme ② démon, revenant ③ esprit ④ 194e radical // Chinese-French
鬼 // 鬼 // guǐ // ① ghost ② demon ③ terrible ④ damnable ⑤ clever ⑥ sly ⑦ crafty ⑧ (suffix for sb with a certain vice or addiction etc) ⑨ one of the 28 constellations // 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
神 // 神 // shén // ① dieu ② esprit ③ expression ④ air ⑤ énergie // Chinese-French
神 // 神 // shén // ① God ② abbr. for 神舟[Shen2 zhou1] // CC-CEDICT
神 // 神 // shén // ① deity ② soul ③ spirit ④ unusual ⑤ mysterious ⑥ lively ⑦ expressive ⑧ expression ⑨ look ⑩ CL:個|个[ge4] ⑪ (slang) awesome ⑫ amazing // CC-CEDICT
非 // 非 // fēi // ① ne pas ② faux ③ abréviation d'Afrique ④ 175e radical // Chinese-French
非 // 非 // fēi // ① abbr. for 非洲[Fei1 zhou1], Africa // CC-CEDICT
非 // 非 // fēi // ① to not be ② not ③ wrong ④ incorrect ⑤ non- ⑥ un- ⑦ in- ⑧ to reproach or blame ⑨ (colloquial) to insist on ⑩ simply must // CC-CEDICT
其 // 其 // qí // ① son ② sa ③ ses ④ leur ⑤ leurs ⑥ il(s) ⑦ elle(s) ⑧ ceci ⑨ cela // Chinese-French
其 // 其 // qí // ① his ② her ③ its ④ their ⑤ that ⑥ such ⑦ it (refers to sth preceding it) // CC-CEDICT
鬼 // 鬼 // guǐ // ① fantôme ② démon, revenant ③ esprit ④ 194e radical // Chinese-French
鬼 // 鬼 // guǐ // ① ghost ② demon ③ terrible ④ damnable ⑤ clever ⑥ sly ⑦ crafty ⑧ (suffix for sb with a certain vice or addiction etc) ⑨ one of the 28 constellations // 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
神 // 神 // shén // ① dieu ② esprit ③ expression ④ air ⑤ énergie // Chinese-French
神 // 神 // shén // ① God ② abbr. for 神舟[Shen2 zhou1] // CC-CEDICT
神 // 神 // shén // ① deity ② soul ③ spirit ④ unusual ⑤ mysterious ⑥ lively ⑦ expressive ⑧ expression ⑨ look ⑩ CL:個|个[ge4] ⑪ (slang) awesome ⑫ amazing // CC-CEDICT
其 // 其 // qí // ① son ② sa ③ ses ④ leur ⑤ leurs ⑥ il(s) ⑦ elle(s) ⑧ ceci ⑨ cela // Chinese-French
其 // 其 // qí // ① his ② her ③ its ④ their ⑤ that ⑥ such ⑦ it (refers to sth preceding it) // CC-CEDICT
神 // 神 // shén // ① dieu ② esprit ③ expression ④ air ⑤ énergie // Chinese-French
神 // 神 // shén // ① God ② abbr. for 神舟[Shen2 zhou1] // CC-CEDICT
神 // 神 // shén // ① deity ② soul ③ spirit ④ unusual ⑤ mysterious ⑥ lively ⑦ expressive ⑧ expression ⑨ look ⑩ CL:個|个[ge4] ⑪ (slang) awesome ⑫ amazing // 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
傷人 // 伤人 // shāng rén // ① nuire à qqn ② blesser // Chinese-French
傷人 // 伤人 // shāng rén // ① to injure sb // CC-CEDICT
非 // 非 // fēi // ① ne pas ② faux ③ abréviation d'Afrique ④ 175e radical // Chinese-French
非 // 非 // fēi // ① abbr. for 非洲[Fei1 zhou1], Africa // CC-CEDICT
非 // 非 // fēi // ① to not be ② not ③ wrong ④ incorrect ⑤ non- ⑥ un- ⑦ in- ⑧ to reproach or blame ⑨ (colloquial) to insist on ⑩ simply must // CC-CEDICT
其 // 其 // qí // ① son ② sa ③ ses ④ leur ⑤ leurs ⑥ il(s) ⑦ elle(s) ⑧ ceci ⑨ cela // Chinese-French
其 // 其 // qí // ① his ② her ③ its ④ their ⑤ that ⑥ such ⑦ it (refers to sth preceding it) // CC-CEDICT
神 // 神 // shén // ① dieu ② esprit ③ expression ④ air ⑤ énergie // Chinese-French
神 // 神 // shén // ① God ② abbr. for 神舟[Shen2 zhou1] // CC-CEDICT
神 // 神 // shén // ① deity ② soul ③ spirit ④ unusual ⑤ mysterious ⑥ lively ⑦ expressive ⑧ expression ⑨ look ⑩ CL:個|个[ge4] ⑪ (slang) awesome ⑫ amazing // 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
傷人 // 伤人 // shāng rén // ① nuire à qqn ② blesser // Chinese-French
傷人 // 伤人 // shāng rén // ① to injure sb // CC-CEDICT
聖人 // 圣人 // shèng rén // ① saint // Chinese-French
聖人 // 圣人 // shèng rén // ① saint ② sage ③ refers to Confucius 孔子[Kong3 zi3] ④ the current reigning Emperor // CC-CEDICT
亦 // 亦 // yì // ① aussi ② également // Chinese-French
亦 // 亦 // yì // ① also // 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
傷人 // 伤人 // shāng rén // ① nuire à qqn ② blesser // Chinese-French
傷人 // 伤人 // shāng rén // ① to injure sb // 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
兩 // 两 // liǎng // ① deux ② once, taël // Chinese-French
兩 // 两 // liǎng // ① two ② both ③ some ④ a few ⑤ tael, unit of weight equal to 50 grams (modern) or 1⁄16 of a catty 斤[jin1] (old) // 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
相 // 相 // xiāng // ① mutuellement ② l'un l'autre ③ examiner ④ évaluer // Chinese-French
相 // 相 // xiāng // ① surname Xiang // CC-CEDICT
相 // 相 // xiāng // ① each other ② one another ③ mutually // CC-CEDICT
相 // 相 // xiàng // ① apparence ② air ③ photo // Chinese-French
相 // 相 // xiàng // ① appearance ② portrait ③ picture ④ government minister ⑤ (physics) phase ⑥ (literary) to appraise (esp. by scrutinizing physical features) ⑦ to read sb's fortune (by physiognomy, palmistry etc) // CC-CEDICT
傷 // 伤 // shāng // ① blesser ② nuire à ③ blessure // Chinese-French
傷 // 伤 // shāng // ① to injure ② injury ③ wound // CC-CEDICT
故 // 故 // gù // ① incident ② cause ③ à dessein ④ exprès ⑤ raison ⑥ ancien ⑦ mourir // Chinese-French
故 // 故 // gù // ① happening ② instance ③ reason ④ cause ⑤ intentional ⑥ former ⑦ old ⑧ friend ⑨ therefore ⑩ hence ⑪ (of people) to die, dead // CC-CEDICT
德 // 德 // dé // ① vertu ② moralité ③ volonté ④ coeur ⑤ bonté ⑥ bienveillance ⑦ (abréviation d'Allemagne) // Chinese-French
德 // 德 // dé // ① Germany ② German ③ abbr. for 德國|德国[De2 guo2] // CC-CEDICT
德 // 德 // dé // ① virtue ② goodness ③ morality ④ ethics ⑤ kindness ⑥ favor ⑦ character ⑧ kind // CC-CEDICT
悳 // 德 // dé // ① variant of 德[de2] // CC-CEDICT
惪 // 德 // dé // ① variant of 德[de2] // CC-CEDICT
交 // 交 // jiāo // ① ensemble ② jonction ③ rencontre ④ livrer ⑤ remettre ⑥ échanger ⑦ se croiser ⑧ nouer des relations // Chinese-French
交 // 交 // jiāo // ① to hand over ② to deliver ③ to pay (money) ④ to turn over ⑤ to make friends ⑥ to intersect (lines) // CC-CEDICT
歸 // 归 // guī // ① retourner ② rentrer ③ rendre ④ appartenir ⑤ vers // Chinese-French
歸 // 归 // guī // ① surname Gui // CC-CEDICT
歸 // 归 // guī // ① to return ② to go back to ③ to give back to ④ (of a responsibility) to be taken care of by ⑤ to belong to ⑥ to gather together ⑦ (used between two identical verbs) despite ⑧ to marry (of a woman) (old) ⑨ division on the abacus with a one-digit divisor // CC-CEDICT
焉 // 焉 // yān // ① (employé à la fin d'une phrase) ② comment ③ seulement ④ ici ⑤ cela // Chinese-French
焉 // 焉 // yān // ① where ② how // CC-CEDICT
(Ⅵ)
- Yi Wu (1989) :

Governing a big country is like cooking small fish:
Too much stirring will spoil the whole dish.
If the ruler governs the country by the Way,
The evil souls will not work against the society.
It is not that evil souls will have lost their influence,
But that their influence can do no harm to the living.
When evil souls can exert no bad influence from below,
Nor rulers harm people from above,
Then the Way will have extended far enough
To bring all the living back to their nature.
(Ⅶ)
- Lynn (2004) :

Ruling a large state is like cooking a small fish.
If one uses the Dao to oversee all under Heaven, the malign spirits there will lose their numinous power.
It is not that these malign spirits have no numinous power;
it is just that they will do no harm to the people.
It is not these numinous powers that do not harm the people but the sage, in fact, who does not harm the people.
It is because neither of these two cause any harm that they unite their virtues and revert to it.
(Ⅷ)


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