Chapter 73 How to act adequately.
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(Version and commentary of He Shanggong in English)


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73. 1  
Who is brave in daring will be killed.

To act bravely and daring, this kills the body.

Who is brave in not daring will live

To act bravely and not daring, this keeps the body alive.

Of these two,

Daring and not daring are meant,

one is blissful, one is hurtful.

To keep the body alive is blissful. To kill the body is hurtful.

What heaven hates,

It hates action.

Who knows the reason of this ?

Who is able to know the reason of heaven’s opinion without becoming rebellious?

Therefore the saint seems to feel this as hard.

This means: The shining Te of the saint seems to feel this brave daring as hard, how much more the Te of one who is not a saint that strives to follow him.

It is the way of heaven not to contend but to vanquish well.

Heaven does not contend with man for things valuable or worthless, but man is afraid of it.

It does not talk but is well corresponded to.

Heaven does not talk. All things move of themselves and correspond to the seasons.

It does not call but they come themselves.

Heaven does not call the things. All turn their backs to the Yin and embrace the Yang.

It is so vast and still plans well.

繟 = 寬 vast. It is the way of heaven, in spite of its vastness, to make good plans for timid men in their affairs, so that they may cultivate the good and hate the evil. Everybody receives his recompense.

Heaven’s net is very wide-meshed. It is coarse and still loses nothing.

As regards the net of heaven, it has wide meshes and is very large. Though it is coarse and wide, it overlooks the good and bad within man. Nothing escapes it.

- Chinese :

《道德經》: 勇於敢則殺,勇於不敢則活。此兩者,或利或害。天之所惡,孰知其故?是以聖人猶難之。天之道,不爭而善勝,不言而善應,不召而自來,繟然而善謀。天網恢恢,踈而不失。

《老子河上公章句·任為》: 勇於敢則殺,勇於不敢則活。此兩者,或利或害,天之所惡。孰知其故?是以聖人猶難之。天之道,不爭而善勝,不言而善應,不召而自來,繟然而善謀。天網恢恢,疏而不失。

《馬王堆·老子甲德經》: 勇於敢者□□,□於不敢者則栝。□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□,不言而善應,不召而自來,彈而善謀□□□□□□□□。

《馬王堆·老子乙德經》: 勇於敢則殺,勇於不敢則栝。□兩者,或利或害。天之所亞,孰知其故?天之道,不單而善朕,不言而善應,弗召而自來,單而善謀。天罔恢恢,疏而不失。
(⁎)
- He Shanggong (Chinese) :

勇於敢則殺,勇敢有為,則殺其身。勇於不敢則活。勇於不敢有為,則活其身。此兩者,謂敢與不敢也。或利或害,活身為利,殺身為害。天之所惡。惡有為也。孰知其故?誰能知天意之故而不犯?是以聖人猶難之。言聖人之明德猶難於勇敢,況無聖人之德而欲行之乎?天之道,不爭而善勝,天不與人爭貴賤,而人自畏之。不言而善應,天不言,萬物自動以應時。不召而自來,天不呼召,萬物皆負陰而向陽。繟然而善謀。繟,寬也。天道雖寬博,善謀慮人事,修善行惡,各蒙其報也。天網恢恢,疏而不失。天所網羅恢恢甚大,雖疏遠,司察人善惡,無有所失。
(Ⅱ)
- Wing-Tsit Chan (1963) :

He who is brave in daring will be killed. He who is brave in not daring will live.
Of these two, one is advantageous and one is harmful. Who knows why Heaven dislikes what it dislikes? Even the sage considers it a difficult question.
The Way of Heaven does not compete, and yet is skillfully achieves victory. It does not speak, and yet it skillfully responds to things. It comes to you without your invitation. It is not anxious about things and yet it plans well.
Heaven's net is indeed vast. Though its meshes are wide, it misses nothing.
(Ⅲ)
- Ellen Marie Chen (1989) :

One who is courageous out of daring (kan) is killed.
One who is courageous out of not daring lives.
Of these two, this is beneficial while that is harmful.
What heaven hates, who knows the reason?
Therefore even the sage takes it to be difficult.
The way of heaven:
Without contending (cheng), it is yet good at winning,
Without speaking, it is yet good in responding,
Without being beckoned, it yet comes of its own accord,
Unhurried, it is yet good at planning (mou).
The net of heaven is vast,
Widely spaced, yet missing nothing.
(Ⅳ)
- Ch'u Ta-Kao (1904) :

He who shows courage in daring will perish;
He who shows courage in not-daring will live.
To know these two is to distinguish the one, benefit, from the other, harm.
Who can tell that one of them should be loathed by Heaven?
The Tao of heaven does not contend yet it surely wins the victory.
It does not speak; yet it surely responds.
It does not call; yet all things come of their own accord. The net of heaven is vast, and its meshes are wide; yet from it, nothing escapes.
(Ⅴ)
- World by world translation :

Traditional // simplified // pinyin // definition // dictionary
勇於 // 勇于 // yǒng yú // ① oser ② être assez courageux pour // Chinese-French
勇於 // 勇于 // yǒng yú // ① to dare to ② to be brave enough to // CC-CEDICT
敢 // 敢 // gǎn // ① audacieux ② courageux ③ oser ④ avoir l'audace // Chinese-French
敢 // 敢 // gǎn // ① to dare ② daring ③ (polite) may I venture // CC-CEDICT
則 // 则 // zé // ① règle ② règlement ③ alors ④ donc // Chinese-French
則 // 则 // zé // ① (conjunction used to express contrast with a previous clause) but ② then ③ standard ④ norm ⑤ principle ⑥ to imitate ⑦ to follow ⑧ classifier for written items // CC-CEDICT
殺 // 杀 // shā // ① tuer ② se battre // Chinese-French
殺 // 杀 // shā // ① to kill ② to murder ③ to attack ④ to weaken or reduce ⑤ to smart (dialect) ⑥ (used after a verb) extremely // CC-CEDICT
勇於 // 勇于 // yǒng yú // ① oser ② être assez courageux pour // Chinese-French
勇於 // 勇于 // yǒng yú // ① to dare to ② to be brave enough to // CC-CEDICT
不敢 // 不敢 // bù gǎn // ① ne pas oser // Chinese-French
則 // 则 // zé // ① règle ② règlement ③ alors ④ donc // Chinese-French
則 // 则 // zé // ① (conjunction used to express contrast with a previous clause) but ② then ③ standard ④ norm ⑤ principle ⑥ to imitate ⑦ to follow ⑧ classifier for written items // CC-CEDICT
活 // 活 // huó // ① vivre ② sauver la vie à ③ vivant ④ vif ⑤ expressif ⑥ souple ⑦ travail // Chinese-French
活 // 活 // huó // ① to live ② alive ③ living ④ work ⑤ workmanship // CC-CEDICT
此 // 此 // cǐ // ① ce ② ici // Chinese-French
此 // 此 // cǐ // ① this ② these // CC-CEDICT
兩者 // 两者 // liǎng zhě // ① deux côtés // Chinese-French
兩者 // 两者 // liǎng zhě // ① both sides // CC-CEDICT
或 // 或 // huò // ① ou ② soit...soit... ③ probablement ④ peut-être // Chinese-French
或 // 或 // huò // ① maybe ② perhaps ③ might ④ possibly ⑤ or // CC-CEDICT
利 // 利 // lì // ① profit ② intérêt ③ tranchant ④ favorable // Chinese-French
利 // 利 // lì // ① surname Li // CC-CEDICT
利 // 利 // lì // ① sharp ② favorable ③ advantage ④ benefit ⑤ profit ⑥ interest ⑦ to do good to ⑧ to benefit // CC-CEDICT
或 // 或 // huò // ① ou ② soit...soit... ③ probablement ④ peut-être // Chinese-French
或 // 或 // huò // ① maybe ② perhaps ③ might ④ possibly ⑤ or // CC-CEDICT
害 // 害 // hài // ① nuisible ② mal ③ dommage ④ nuire à ⑤ tuer ⑥ assassiner // Chinese-French
害 // 害 // hài // ① to do harm to ② to cause trouble to ③ harm ④ evil ⑤ calamity // CC-CEDICT
天 // 天 // tiān // ① ciel ② jour ③ journée ④ temps ⑤ saison ⑥ nature ⑦ univers // Chinese-French
天 // 天 // tiān // ① day ② sky ③ heaven // 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
所 // 所 // suǒ // ① place ② endroit ③ institut ④ office // Chinese-French
所 // 所 // suǒ // ① actually ② place ③ classifier for houses, small buildings, institutions etc ④ that which ⑤ particle introducing a relative clause or passive ⑥ CL:個|个[ge4] // CC-CEDICT
惡 // 恶 // è // ① mauvais ② méchant ③ vicieux // Chinese-French
惡 // 恶 // è // ① evil ② fierce ③ vicious ④ ugly ⑤ coarse ⑥ to harm // CC-CEDICT
惡 // 恶 // ě // ① mal // Chinese-French
惡 // 恶 // ě // ① see 惡心|恶心[e3 xin1] // CC-CEDICT
惡 // 恶 // wù // ① haïr ② détestable // Chinese-French
惡 // 恶 // wù // ① to hate ② to loathe ③ ashamed ④ to fear ⑤ to slander // CC-CEDICT
孰 // 孰 // shú // ① qui ② que // Chinese-French
孰 // 孰 // shú // ① who ② which ③ what // CC-CEDICT
知 // 知 // zhī // ① savoir ② connaître ③ connaissances // Chinese-French
知 // 知 // zhī // ① to know ② to be aware // 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
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
是以 // 是以 // shì yǐ // ① par conséquent ② donc // Chinese-French
是以 // 是以 // shì yǐ // ① therefore ② thus ③ so // 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
猶 // 犹 // yóu // ① comme ② encore // Chinese-French
猶 // 犹 // yóu // ① as if ② (just) like ③ just as ④ still ⑤ yet // CC-CEDICT
難 // 难 // nán // ① difficile ② ennuyeux ③ fatigant // Chinese-French
難 // 难 // nán // ① difficult (to...) ② problem ③ difficulty ④ difficult ⑤ not good // CC-CEDICT
難 // 难 // nàn // ① désastre ② détresse ③ clamité ④ infortune ⑤ malheur // Chinese-French
難 // 难 // nàn // ① disaster ② distress ③ to scold // 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
天 // 天 // tiān // ① ciel ② jour ③ journée ④ temps ⑤ saison ⑥ nature ⑦ univers // Chinese-French
天 // 天 // tiān // ① day ② sky ③ heaven // 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
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
不爭 // 不争 // bù zhēng // ① widely known ② incontestable ③ undeniable ④ to not strive for ⑤ to not contend for // 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
善 // 善 // shàn // ① bon ② bienveillant ③ habile // Chinese-French
善 // 善 // shàn // ① good (virtuous) ② benevolent ③ well-disposed ④ good at sth ⑤ to improve or perfect // CC-CEDICT
勝 // 胜 // shèng // ① remarquable ② excellent ③ supérieur ④ être égal à ⑤ être à la hauteur de ⑥ pouvoir supporter ⑦ victoire ⑧ succès ⑨ vaincre ⑩ remporter la victoire sur ⑪ surpasser ⑫ dépasser // Chinese-French
勝 // 胜 // shèng // ① victory ② success ③ to beat ④ to defeat ⑤ to surpass ⑥ victorious ⑦ superior to ⑧ to get the better of ⑨ better than ⑩ surpassing ⑪ superb (of vista) ⑫ beautiful (scenery) ⑬ wonderful (view) ⑭ (Taiwan pr. [sheng1]) able to bear ⑮ equal to (a task) // 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
言 // 言 // yán // ① dire ② mot ③ parole ④ opinion ⑤ propos // Chinese-French
言 // 言 // yán // ① words ② speech ③ to say ④ to talk // 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
善 // 善 // shàn // ① bon ② bienveillant ③ habile // Chinese-French
善 // 善 // shàn // ① good (virtuous) ② benevolent ③ well-disposed ④ good at sth ⑤ to improve or perfect // CC-CEDICT
應 // 应 // yīng // ① falloir ② devoir ③ répondre à // Chinese-French
應 // 应 // yīng // ① to agree (to do sth) ② should ③ ought to ④ must ⑤ (legal) shall // CC-CEDICT
應 // 应 // yìng // ① répondre à ② accepter ③ consentir // Chinese-French
應 // 应 // yìng // ① surname Ying // CC-CEDICT
應 // 应 // yìng // ① to answer ② to respond ③ to comply with ④ to deal or cope with // 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
召 // 召 // zhào // ① convoquer ② faire venir // Chinese-French
召 // 召 // zhào // ① to call together ② to summon ③ to convene ④ temple or monastery (used in place names in Inner Mongolia) // CC-CEDICT
召 // 召 // shào // ① (nom de famille) // Chinese-French
召 // 召 // shào // ① surname Shao ② name of an ancient state that existed in what is now Shaanxi Province // 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
自來 // 自来 // zì lái // ① from the beginning ② always ③ to come of one's own accord // CC-CEDICT
然而 // 然而 // rán ér // ① mais ② cependant // Chinese-French
然而 // 然而 // rán ér // ① however ② yet ③ but // CC-CEDICT
善 // 善 // shàn // ① bon ② bienveillant ③ habile // Chinese-French
善 // 善 // shàn // ① good (virtuous) ② benevolent ③ well-disposed ④ good at sth ⑤ to improve or perfect // CC-CEDICT
謀 // 谋 // móu // ① projeter ② comploter ③ rechercher ④ chercher à obtenir ⑤ projet ⑥ complot ⑦ stratagème // Chinese-French
謀 // 谋 // móu // ① to plan ② to seek ③ scheme // CC-CEDICT
天網恢恢 // 天网恢恢 // tiān wǎng huī huī // ① lit. heaven's net has wide meshes, but nothing escapes it (idiom, from Laozi 73) ② fig. the way of Heaven is fair, but the guilty will not escape ③ you can't run from the long arm of the law // CC-CEDICT
踈 // 踈 // shū // ① variant of 疏[shu1] // 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
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
失 // 失 // shī // ① erreur ② accident ③ perdre // Chinese-French
失 // 失 // shī // ① to lose ② to miss ③ to fail // CC-CEDICT
(Ⅵ)
- Yi Wu (1989) :

One who is brave enough to dare gets death.
One who is brave enough not to dare gets life.
The big difference between the two
Is the result of heaven's intervention.
And that is where the ruler should hesitate.
Heaven's way wins without fighting,
Responds without being asked,
Comes to the rescue without being summoned,
And has wonderful schemes within a simple expanse.
Heaven's net of law is the most sparsely woven,
But it is the biggest and lets off no criminals.
(Ⅶ)
- Lynn (2004) :

If one's bravery is expressed in daring, he will be killed.
If one's bravery is expressed in not daring, he will live.
But both these two sometimes result in benefit, sometimes in harm.
When Heaven is cruel, who understands why?
Therefore even the sage finds this fraught with danger.
The Dao of Heaven is such that one excels at winning without contending.
He excels at making people respond without speaking.
He spontaneously attracts without summoning.
He excels at planning while utterly at ease.
The net of Heaven spreads far and wide.
Though its mesh is coarse, it never loses anything.
(Ⅷ)


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