Chapter 74 How to restrict doubts.
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(Version and commentary of He Shanggong in English)


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74. 1  
When the people do not fear death,

When the ruler of a country deals out punishments in a very cruel way, then the people do not live carefree. Therefore they do not fear death. When in practicing asceticism he hurts the spirits through desire and kills the body through greed for wealth, then the people do not know fear.

How can one frighten them with death?

If the prince is not large-minded as regards punishments, he causes the people to flee from quietude. Why does he then want to fix punishments and laws? To frighten them by death.

When one always causes people to fear death,

One must eliminate what does harm to the self and teach the people how to do away with noxious desires.

Then, if they become queer and I seize and kill them, who dares?

If one improves them by Taoism and the people do not follow but become deceitful, then it is adequate to the king to seize and kill them. Who would then dare to stir rebellion? Lao-tse is sorry for the kings of his time who did not first improve by Tao and Te but proceeded [at once] with punishments.

There is always the master of killing who kills.

The master of killing is heaven. It stays above and looks down. It surveys, as their master, the crimes of men. The net of heaven is very wide-meshed, it is coarse and still loses nothing.

If now the master of killing who kills is supplanted, this is called supplanting the great carpenter.

The way of heaven is highest enlightenment. The master of examinations is always there, as spring generates, summer makes grow, autumn perfects and winter buries. The handle of the Dipper turns and regulates them. If the prince wants to supplant the killer, this is like an unskilled fellow who wants to supplant a carpenter. He toils and achieves nothing

Now if the great carpenter is supplanted, there are few who will not hurt their hands.

If a prince proceeds with punishments like an unskilled fellow who wants to supplant a carpenter, he will not achieve the right thing, neither in the square nor in the round, but cut his own hands. Who wants to supplant the celestial killer will lose his principles. Who does not keep to his principles draws misfortune upon himself.

- Chinese :

《道德經》: 民不畏死,奈何以死懼之?若使民常畏死,而為奇者,吾得執而殺之,孰敢?常有司殺者殺。夫司殺者,是大匠斲;夫代大匠斲者,希有不傷其手矣。

《老子河上公章句·制惑》: 民不畏死,奈何以死懼之?若使民常畏死,而為奇者,吾得執而殺之。孰敢?常有司殺者。夫代司殺者,是謂代大匠斲。夫代大匠斲者,希有不傷手矣。

《馬王堆·老子甲德經》: □□□□□□□,奈何以殺懼之也?若民恆是死,則而為者吾將得而殺之,夫孰敢矣?若民□□必畏死,則恆有司殺者。夫伐司殺者殺,是伐大匠斲也,夫伐大匠斲者,則□不傷其手矣。

《馬王堆·老子乙德經》: 若民恆且○不畏死,若何以殺懼之也?使民恆且畏死,而為畸者,□得而殺之,夫孰敢矣!若民恆且必畏死,則恆又司殺者。夫代司殺者殺,是代大匠斲。夫代大匠斲,則希不傷其手。
(⁎)
- He Shanggong (Chinese) :

民不畏死,治國者刑罰酷深,民不聊生,故不畏死也。治身者嗜欲傷神,貪財殺身,民不知畏之也。奈何以死懼之?人君不寬刑罰,教民去情欲,奈何設刑法以死懼之?若使民常畏死,當除己之所殘剋,教民去利欲也。而為奇者,吾得執而殺之。孰敢?以道教化而民不從,反為奇巧,乃應王法執而殺之,誰敢有犯者?老子疾時王不先道德化之,而先刑罰也。常有司殺者。司殺者,謂天居高臨下,司察人過。天網恢恢,疏而不失也。夫代司殺者,是謂代大匠斲。天道至明,司殺有常,猶春生夏長,秋收冬藏,斗杓運移,以節度行之。人君欲代殺之,是猶拙夫代大匠斲木,勞而無功也。夫代大匠斲者,希有不傷手矣。人君行刑罰,猶拙夫代大匠斲,則方圓不得其理,還自傷。代天殺者,失紀綱,不得其紀綱還受其殃也。
(Ⅱ)
- Wing-Tsit Chan (1963) :

The people are not afraid of death. Why, then, threaten them with death?
Suppose the people are always afraid of death and we can seize those who are vicious and kill them, Who would dare to do so?
There is always the master executioner (Heaven) who kills. To undertake executions for the master executioner is like hewing wood for the master carpenter. Whoever undertakes hewing wood for the master carpenter rarely escapes injuring his own hands.
(Ⅲ)
- Ellen Marie Chen (1989) :

The people do not fear death,
Why threaten them with death?
Suppose the people always fear death,
One who does strange things (ch'i),
I shall seize and kill,
Then who dares [to do strange things]?
Killing is carried out by the executioner.
To replace the executioner and kill,
Is like chopping wood in place of the master carpenter.
To chop wood in place of the master carpenter,
Rarely one does not hurt one's own hand.
(Ⅳ)
- Ch'u Ta-Kao (1904) :

When the people are not afraid of death, what use is it to frighten them with the punishment of death? If the people were constantly afraid of death and we could arrest and kill those who commit treacheries, who then would commit such? Only the Supreme Executioner kills. To kill in place of the Supreme Executioner is to hack instead of a great carpenter. Now if one hacks in place of a great carpenter one can scarcely avoid cutting one's own hand.
(Ⅴ)
- World by world translation :

Traditional // simplified // pinyin // definition // dictionary
民 // 民 // mín // ① peuple ② gens du commun // Chinese-French
民 // 民 // mín // ① surname Min // CC-CEDICT
民 // 民 // mín // ① the people ② nationality ③ citizen // CC-CEDICT
不畏 // 不畏 // bù wèi // ① sans peur ② défier // Chinese-French
不畏 // 不畏 // bù wèi // ① unafraid ② to defy // CC-CEDICT
死 // 死 // sǐ // ① mourir ② à mort ③ extrêmement ④ mort ⑤ rigide // Chinese-French
死 // 死 // sǐ // ① to die ② impassable ③ uncrossable ④ inflexible ⑤ rigid ⑥ extremely ⑦ damned // CC-CEDICT
奈何 // 奈何 // nài hé // ① que faire // Chinese-French
奈何 // 奈何 // nài hé // ① to do something to sb ② to deal with ③ to cope ④ how? ⑤ to no avail // 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
死 // 死 // sǐ // ① mourir ② à mort ③ extrêmement ④ mort ⑤ rigide // Chinese-French
死 // 死 // sǐ // ① to die ② impassable ③ uncrossable ④ inflexible ⑤ rigid ⑥ extremely ⑦ damned // CC-CEDICT
懼 // 惧 // jù // ① craindre ② avoir peur // Chinese-French
懼 // 惧 // jù // ① to fear // 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
若 // 若 // ruò // ① si ② comme // Chinese-French
若 // 若 // ruò // ① to seem ② like ③ as ④ if // CC-CEDICT
使 // 使 // shǐ // ① envoyé ② utiliser ③ employer ④ faire faire ⑤ envoyer // Chinese-French
使 // 使 // shǐ // ① to make ② to cause ③ to enable ④ to use ⑤ to employ ⑥ to send ⑦ to instruct sb to do sth ⑧ envoy ⑨ messenger // CC-CEDICT
民 // 民 // mín // ① peuple ② gens du commun // Chinese-French
民 // 民 // mín // ① surname Min // CC-CEDICT
民 // 民 // mín // ① the people ② nationality ③ citizen // 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
畏 // 畏 // wèi // ① craindre // Chinese-French
畏 // 畏 // wèi // ① to fear // CC-CEDICT
死 // 死 // sǐ // ① mourir ② à mort ③ extrêmement ④ mort ⑤ rigide // Chinese-French
死 // 死 // sǐ // ① to die ② impassable ③ uncrossable ④ inflexible ⑤ rigid ⑥ extremely ⑦ damned // 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
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
奇 // 奇 // qí // ① extraordinaire, merveilleux ② rare // Chinese-French
奇 // 奇 // qí // ① strange ② odd ③ weird ④ wonderful ⑤ surprisingly ⑥ unusually // CC-CEDICT
奇 // 奇 // jī // ① impair ② seul ③ reste // Chinese-French
奇 // 奇 // jī // ① odd (number) // CC-CEDICT
者 // 者 // zhě // ① (placé après un adjectif ou un verbe est utilisé comme substantif pour désigner une personne ou une chose) // Chinese-French
者 // 者 // zhě // ① (after a verb or adjective) one who (is) ... ② (after a noun) person involved in ... ③ -er ④ -ist ⑤ (used after a number or 後|后[hou4] or 前[qian2] to refer to sth mentioned previously) ⑥ (used after a term, to mark a pause before defining the term) ⑦ (old) (used at the end of a command) ⑧ (old) this // 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
得 // 得 // de // ① (exprime un résultat, une possibilité, un degré ou un aboutissement) // Chinese-French
得 // 得 // de // ① structural particle: used after a verb (or adjective as main verb), linking it to following phrase indicating effect, degree, possibility etc // CC-CEDICT
得 // 得 // dé // ① acquérir ② gagner ③ être prêt // Chinese-French
得 // 得 // dé // ① to obtain ② to get ③ to gain ④ to catch (a disease) ⑤ proper ⑥ suitable ⑦ proud ⑧ contented ⑨ to allow ⑩ to permit ⑪ ready ⑫ finished // CC-CEDICT
得 // 得 // děi // ① avoir besoin ② nécessiter ③ devoir ④ falloir ⑤ être sûr de // Chinese-French
得 // 得 // děi // ① to have to ② must ③ ought to ④ to need to // CC-CEDICT
執 // 执 // zhí // ① tenir ② persister ③ appliquer ④ exécuter // Chinese-French
執 // 执 // zhí // ① to execute (a plan) ② to grasp // 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
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
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
孰 // 孰 // shú // ① qui ② que // Chinese-French
孰 // 孰 // shú // ① who ② which ③ what // 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
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
有 // 有 // yǒu // ① avoir ② posséder ③ il y a ④ exister // Chinese-French
有 // 有 // yǒu // ① to have ② there is ③ there are ④ to exist ⑤ to be // CC-CEDICT
司 // 司 // sī // ① diriger ② se charger de ③ département // Chinese-French
司 // 司 // sī // ① surname Si // CC-CEDICT
司 // 司 // sī // ① to take charge of ② to manage ③ department (under a ministry) // 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
者 // 者 // zhě // ① (placé après un adjectif ou un verbe est utilisé comme substantif pour désigner une personne ou une chose) // Chinese-French
者 // 者 // zhě // ① (after a verb or adjective) one who (is) ... ② (after a noun) person involved in ... ③ -er ④ -ist ⑤ (used after a number or 後|后[hou4] or 前[qian2] to refer to sth mentioned previously) ⑥ (used after a term, to mark a pause before defining the term) ⑦ (old) (used at the end of a command) ⑧ (old) this // 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
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
司 // 司 // sī // ① diriger ② se charger de ③ département // Chinese-French
司 // 司 // sī // ① surname Si // CC-CEDICT
司 // 司 // sī // ① to take charge of ② to manage ③ department (under a ministry) // 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
者 // 者 // zhě // ① (placé après un adjectif ou un verbe est utilisé comme substantif pour désigner une personne ou une chose) // Chinese-French
者 // 者 // zhě // ① (after a verb or adjective) one who (is) ... ② (after a noun) person involved in ... ③ -er ④ -ist ⑤ (used after a number or 後|后[hou4] or 前[qian2] to refer to sth mentioned previously) ⑥ (used after a term, to mark a pause before defining the term) ⑦ (old) (used at the end of a command) ⑧ (old) this // CC-CEDICT
是 // 是 // shì // ① être ② oui ③ correct // Chinese-French
是 // 是 // shì // ① is ② are ③ am ④ yes ⑤ to be // CC-CEDICT
昰 // 是 // shì // ① variant of 是[shi4] ② (used in given names) // CC-CEDICT
大匠 // 大匠 // dà jiàng // ① master craftsman ② Han dynasty official title // CC-CEDICT
斲 // 斫 // zhuó // ① to chop ② to carve wood // 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
代 // 代 // dài // ① suppléant par intérim ② génération ③ remplacer ④ substituer // Chinese-French
代 // 代 // dài // ① to substitute ② to act on behalf of others ③ to replace ④ generation ⑤ dynasty ⑥ age ⑦ period ⑧ (historical) era ⑨ (geological) eon // CC-CEDICT
大匠 // 大匠 // dà jiàng // ① master craftsman ② Han dynasty official title // CC-CEDICT
斲 // 斫 // zhuó // ① to chop ② to carve wood // CC-CEDICT
者 // 者 // zhě // ① (placé après un adjectif ou un verbe est utilisé comme substantif pour désigner une personne ou une chose) // Chinese-French
者 // 者 // zhě // ① (after a verb or adjective) one who (is) ... ② (after a noun) person involved in ... ③ -er ④ -ist ⑤ (used after a number or 後|后[hou4] or 前[qian2] to refer to sth mentioned previously) ⑥ (used after a term, to mark a pause before defining the term) ⑦ (old) (used at the end of a command) ⑧ (old) this // CC-CEDICT
希 // 希 // xī // ① espérer ② désirer ③ rare // Chinese-French
希 // 希 // xī // ① to hope ② to admire ③ variant of 稀[xi1] // CC-CEDICT
有 // 有 // yǒu // ① avoir ② posséder ③ il y a ④ exister // Chinese-French
有 // 有 // yǒu // ① to have ② there is ③ there are ④ to exist ⑤ to be // 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 // 伤 // shāng // ① blesser ② nuire à ③ blessure // Chinese-French
傷 // 伤 // shāng // ① to injure ② injury ③ wound // 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
手 // 手 // shǒu // ① main ② ouvrier ③ 64e radical // Chinese-French
手 // 手 // shǒu // ① hand ② (formal) to hold ③ person engaged in certain types of work ④ person skilled in certain types of work ⑤ personal(ly) ⑥ convenient ⑦ classifier for skill ⑧ CL:雙|双[shuang1],隻|只[zhi1] // CC-CEDICT
矣 // 矣 // yǐ // ① (finale) : c'est tout // Chinese-French
矣 // 矣 // yǐ // ① classical final particle, similar to modern 了[le5] // CC-CEDICT
(Ⅵ)
- Yi Wu (1989) :

Since people are not afraid of death,
Why should they be threatened with it?
If they were afraid of death,
Who would dare to be executioner
When the evil ones are captured and executed?
The best killer kills all the time.
One who kills in the most accurate and exacting way
Can seldom avoid injuring one's own hands.
(Ⅶ)
- Lynn (2004) :

If the common folk did not fear death, trying to use death to intimidate them would have no effect.
If one caused the common folk always to fear death, there would still be those who behaved perversely, but these I could seize and put to death, so who would dare be perverse?
There is the constant executioner who puts people to death.
If one puts people to death instead of this executioner, this means that he is doing the hewing instead of the great carpenter.
It rarely happens that one who tries to do the hewing instead of the great carpenter does not injure his own hand.
(Ⅷ)


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