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When the government is lazy and dull,

Its people are unspoiled;

When the government is efficient and smart,

Its people are discontented.

Disaster is the avenue of fortune,

(And) fortune is the concealment for disaster.

Who would be able to know its ultimate results?

(As it is), there would never be the normal.

But the normal would (immediately) revert to the deceitful.

And thegood revert to the sinister.

Thus long has mankind gone astray!

Therefore the Sage is square (has firm principles),

but not cutting (sharp-cornered),

Has integrity but does not hurt (others),

Is straight, but not high-handed,

Bright, but not dazzling.

其政闷闷,其民淳淳;其政察察,其民缺缺。祸兮,福之所倚,福兮,祸之所伏。孰知其极?其无正。正复为奇,善复为妖。人之迷,其日固久!是以圣人方而不割,廉而不刿,直而不肆,光而不耀。

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