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That which lies still is easy to hold;

That which is not yet manifest is easy to forestall;

That which is brittle (like ice) easily melts;

That which is minute easily scatters.

Deal with a thing before it is there;

Check disorder before it is rife.

A tree with a full span's girth begins from a tiny sprout;

A nine-storied terrace begins with a clod of earth.

A journey of a thousand li beings at one's feet.

He who acts, spoils;

He who grasps, lets slip.

Because the Sage does not act, he does not spoil,

Because he does not grasp, he does not let slip.

The affairs of men are often spoiled within an ace of


By being careful at the end as at the beginning

Failure is averted.

Therefore the Sage desires to have no desire,

And values not objects difficult to obtain.

Learns that which is unlearned,

And restores what the multitude have lost.

That he may assist in the course of Nature

And not presume to interfere.


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