Chapter 63

Act without acting;
Serve without concern for affairs;
Find flavor in what has no flavor.
Regard the small as large and the few as many,
And repay resentment with kindness.
Plan for the difficult while {it is easy};
{Act on the large} while it's minute.
The most difficult things in the world begin as things that are easy;
The largest things in the world arise from the minute.
Therefore the Sage, to the end does not strive to do the great,
And as a result, he is able {to accomplish the great};
{Those who} too lightly agree {will necessarily be trusted by few};
And those who regard many things as easy will necessarily [end up] with many difficulties.
Therefore, even the Sage regards things as difficult,
And as a result, in the end he has no difficulty.
Robert G. Henricks
DO the Non-Ado.
Strive for the effortless.
Savour the savourless.
Exalt the low.
Multiply the few.
Requite injury with kindness.
Nip troubles in the bud.
Sow the great in the small.
Difficult things of the world
Can only be tackled when they are easy.
Big things of the world
Can only be achieved by attending to their small beginnings.
Thus, the Sage never has to grapple with big things,
Yet he alone is capable of achieving them!
He who promises lightly must be lacking in faith.
He who thinks everything easy will end by finding everything difficult.
Therefore, the Sage, who regards everything as difficult,
Meets with no difficulties in the end.
John C. H. Wu
Do that which consists in taking no action;
Pursue that which is not meddlesome;
Savour that which has no flavour.
Make the small big and the few many;
Do good to him who has done you an injury.
Lay plans for the accomplishment of the difficult before it becomes difficult;
Make something big by starting with it when small.
Difficult things in the world must needs have their beginnings in the easy;
Big things must needs have their beginnings in the small.
Therefore it is because the sage never attempts to be great that he succeeds in becoming great.
One who makes promises rashly rarely keeps good faith;
One who is in the habit of considering things easy meets with frequent difficulties.
Therefore even the sage treats some things as difficult.
That is why in the end no difficulties can get the better of him.
D. C. Lau
Act without action; work without effort.
Taste without savoring.
Magnify the small; increase the few.
Repay ill-will with kindness.
Plan the difficult when it is easy;
Handle the big where it is small.
The world's hardest work begins when it is easy;
The world's largest effort begins where it is small.
Evolved Individuals, finally, take no great action,
And in that way the great is achieved.
Those who commit easily, inspire little trust.
How easy to inspire hardness!
Therefore Evolved Individuals view all as difficult.
Finally they have no difficulty!
R. L. Wing
Consider nonaction as an action, having no trouble as an affair and flavourless as a flavour.
No matter how hostile others are towards me, I always repay them with "De."
Prepare for a difficult problem while it is easy,
Enter on a great task while it is small.
All the difficult things under Heaven necessarily arise from the state in which they were easy;
All the great tasks under Heaven arise from the state in which they were small.
For this reason, the sage never does great things,
And he can accomplish great things just on that account.
Light promising makes one lose one's credit,
And thinking things easy leads to difficulties.
So, the sage, though he is very wise, pays much attention to the difficulties,
Therefore he is free from difficulties in the end.
Ren Jiyu
Practice non-action.
Work without doing.
Taste the tasteless.
Magnify the small, increase the few.
Reward bitterness with care.
See simplicity in the complicated.
Achieve greatness in little things.
In the universe the difficult things are done as if they are easy.
In the universe great acts are made up of small deeds.
The sage does not attempt anything very big,
And thus achieves greatness.
Easy promises make for little trust.
Taking things lightly results in great difficulty.
Because the sage always confronts difficulties,
He never experiences them.
Gia-fu Feng
Act in the state of non-action;
Work but do not work for gain;
Taste but do not taste for the taste.
Never mind if it is big, small, many, or few,
Just repay injury with benevolence.
To do the difficult we start with the easy.
To do the great thing we start with the small.
All the difficult tasks under heaven must begin with the easy parts.
All the great achievements under heaven must begin with the small steps.
The Sage never sets out to do great things.
That way he accomplishes great results.
Those who make easy promises will not be trusted.
Those who say everything is easy
will often have difficulty accomplishing their tasks,
The Sage, on the other hand, takes on the easy tasks as he takes on the difficult.
So in the end no difficulty will hold him up.
Lok Sang Ho
Treat lack of achievement as the achievement,
treat lack of accomplishment as the accomplishment,
treat lack of flavor as the flavor.
Make the small big, make the less more, return hatred with DE.
Solve problems while they are simple; accomplish big things while they are small.
The most difficult tasks in the world can only be finished if you attack them while they are simple;
The most important things in the world can only be accomplished if you start them while they are small.
Therefore, the great men never started with big things, so they accomplished big things.
Promises made easily have no credibility; if you view everything as easy, you will meet many difficulties.
So, the great men tried to find as many difficulties as possible, so they never had difficulties.
Xiaolin Yang
Acting without design, occupying oneself without making a business of it, finding the great in what is small, and the many in the few, repaying injury with kindness, effecting difficult things while they are easy, and managing great things in their beginnings, is the method of Tao.
All difficult things have their origin in that which is easy, and great things in that which is small.
Therefore the wise man can accomplish great things without even attempting them.
He who lightly assents will seldom keep his word.
He who accounts all things easy will have many difficulties.
Therefore the Sage takes great account of small things, and so never has any difficulty.
Walter Gorn Old
(It is the way of the Tao) to act without (thinking of) acting;
to conduct affairs without (feeling the) trouble of them;
to taste without discerning any flavour;
to consider what is small as great, and a few as many;
and to recompense injury with kindness.
(The master of it) anticipates things that are difficult while they are easy, and does things that would become great while they are small.
All difficult things in the world are sure to arise from a previous state in which they were easy, and all great things from one in which they were small.
Therefore the sage, while he never does what is great, is able on that account to accomplish the greatest things.
He who lightly promises is sure to keep but little faith;
he who is continually thinking things easy is sure to find them difficult.
Therefore the sage sees difficulty even in what seems easy, and so never has any difficulties.
James Legge
If you're nothing doing what you do,
you act without acting and savor without savoring,
you render the small vast and the few many,
use Integrity to repay hatred,
see the complexity in simplicity,
find the vast in the minute.
The complex affairs of all beneath heaven are there in simplicity,
and the vast affairs of all beneath heaven are there in the minute.
That's why a sage never bothers with vastness and so becomes utterly vast.
Easy promises breed little trust, and too much simplicity breeds too much complexity.
That's why a sage inhabits the complexity of things and so avoids all complexity.
David Hinton
Act without action;
Disturb without disturbance;
Taste the tasteless.
Great, small, much, little,
Requite enmity with favor.
Tackle a difficult issue while it is easy;
Create a great enterprise while it is small.
All difficult issues under heaven
Begin from easy ones;
All great enterprises under heaven
Begin from small ones.
Hence, the sage man never presumed vastness,
So, he could achieve vastness.
For he who makes promises lightly
Must lack in trustworthiness;
He who takes many things easy
Must encounter many difficulties.
Hence, even the sage man
Considered the task difficult,
Therefore, eventually he had no difficulty.
Chichung Huang
Do (wei) when there is nothing to do (wu-wei),
Manage affairs (shih) when there are none to manage,
Know (chih) by not knowing.
Regard the great as small, the much as little.
Repay injury (yüan) with te.
Plan the difficult while it is easy.
Accomplish (wei) the great when it is small.
Difficult affairs of the world,
Must be done while they are easy.
Great affairs of the world,
Must be done while they are small.
The sage never does anything great,
Therefore he can accomplish the great.
He who makes promises lightly seldom keeps his words.
He who takes much to be easy finds much to be difficult.
Therefore even the sage takes things to be difficult,
So that in the end they are not difficult.
Ellen M. Chen
A person who quests for Tao must carry out the principle of non-interference;
He must restrain himself from implementing his selfish desires [particularly at the cost of others];
He must examine facts thoroughly in spite of boredom;
He must requite all accusations and animosities with virtuous acts, no matter whether it is serious, minor, many, or few.
A difficult problem should be tackled from its easiest points;
To accomplish a great deed one should start from working on its minute details;
Difficult works in this world must be built up from easy points;
Grand tasks in this world should be started from within small scales.
Accordingly, a Sage did not [consciously] aim at accomplishing a grand task, yet he would eventually complete great deeds [with accrual of realistic achievements through working diligently step-by-step].
A person who makes promises easily would keep only a few of them;
A person who seeks easy way out will confront more difficulties later;
Therefore, a Sage would think hard and keep in mind that each task could be more intricate than it appears to be;
Eventually no hardship can hampered him.
Lee Sun Chen Org
Do non-doing.
Carry out no-work.
Taste the tasteless.
Make the small big.
Make the little much.
Render Virtue to enmity.
Plan the difficult when it is still easy.
Accomplish the great when it is still small.
Difficult things in the world can be achieved in what is easy.
Big things in the world can be achieved in what is minute.
Thus, the sage never does big things, yet by that he is capable of achieving them!
He who promises lightly must rarely fulfill it.
He who thinks a thing easy will find it difficult.
Therefore, the sage, who regards everything as difficult, meets with no difficulties in the end.
Tien Cong Tran
Practice no forcing; undertake natural tasks; eat plain food.
No matter big or small, more or less, reply hostility with kindness.
When handling difficulties, one should start with the easiest first.
When eating the elephant, take one bite at a time.
In the world, difficult tasks are composed of easy ones;
Big tasks are formed by small ones.
This is why the sage never attempt big, but can achieve big.
Easily promising results in less credibility.
Broadly underestimating leads to a lot of difficulties.
This is why sages treat everything as if it was difficult.
So they never have difficulties.
Thomas Z. Zhang
It acts without action, does without doing, finds flavour in what is flavourless,
Can make the small great and the few many,
'Requites injuries with good deeds,
Deals with the hard while it is still easy,
With the great while it is still small.'
In the governance of empire everything difficult must be dealt with while it is still easy,
Everything great must be dealt with while it is still small.
Therefore the Sage never has to deal with the great; and so achieves greatness.
But again
'Light assent inspires little confidence
And "many easies" means many a hard.'
Therefore the Sage knows too how to make the easy difficult, and by doing so avoid all difficulties!
Arthur Waley
Act by not acting;
do by not doing;
find flavor in that which has no flavor.
Deal with the small as if it were the great, and deal with the few as if it were the many, but respond to resentment in terms of virtue.
Plan for the difficult while it is still easy;
work on the great while it is still small.
Every difficult matter under Heaven surely originates in something easy, and every great matter under Heaven surely originates in something small.
Therefore it is because the sage never tries to be great that he fulfills his greatness.
Assent lightly given surely inspires little trust.
Regarding many things as easy is sure to result in many difficulties.
Therefore the sage still regards them as difficulties.
Thus he never has difficulties.
Richard John Lynn
Accomplish do-nothing.
Attend to no-affairs.
Taste the flavorless.
Whether it is big or small, many or few,
Requite hatred with virtue.
Deal with the difficult while yet it is easy;
Deal with the big while yet it is small.
The difficult (problems) of the world
Must be dealt with while they are yet easy;
The great (problems) of the world
Must be dealt with while they are yet small.
Therefore the Sage by never dealing with great (problems)
Accomplishes greatness.
He who lightly makes a promise
Will find it often hard to keep his faith.
He who makes light of many things
Will encounter many difficulties.
Hence even the Sage regards things as difficult,
And for that reason never meets with difficulties.
Lin Yutang
Act through nonaction,
Handle affairs through noninterference,
Taste what has no taste,
Regard the small as great, the few as many,
Repay resentment with integrity.
Undertake difficult tasks by approaching what is easy in them;
Do great deeds by focusing on their minute aspects.
All difficulties under heaven arise from what is easy,
All great things under heaven arise from what is minute.
For this reason,
The sage never strives to do what is great.
Therefore,
He can achieve greatness.
One who lightly assents will seldom be believed;
One who thinks everything is easy will encounter much difficulty.
For this reason,
Even the sage considers things difficult.
Therefore,
In the end he is without difficulty.
Victor H. Mair
Act without striving.
Work without interfering.
Find the flavor in what is flavorless.
Enlarge the small, increase the few.
Heal injury with goodness.
Handle the difficult while it is still easy.
Cultivate the great while it is still small.
All difficult things begin as easy things.
All great things begin as small things.
Therefore,
the True Person never attempts anything great, and accomplishes great things.
Lightly made promises inspire little faith.
Trying to make things easy results in great difficulties.
Therefore,
the True Person regards everything as difficult, and is never overcome by difficulties.
Tolbert McCarroll
Govern with laissez-faire.
Act without fanfare.
Dine with the commonest fare.
Big begins as small; many accrue from few.
In tackling difficult tasks, first tackle those easy;
In tackling big tasks, first tackle those flimsy.
The difficult tasks of the world begin as easy;
The big tasks of the world begin as flimsy.
Thus, the sage, who never considers self big, completes many big tasks.
Thus,
promise easily made leads to promise not fulfilled;
difficulty underestimated leads to difficulty multiplied.
Thus, the sage, in treating every task as difficult, encounters no difficulties.
David H. Li
Act from the still fulcrum of non-action,
Engage from the still fulcrum of non- engagement,
Experience from the still fulcrum of non-experience.
Regard the insignificant as significant,
Regard the minor as major,
Requite the unkind with kindness.
Meet the difficult while it is still easy,
Solve the major while it is still minor.
Difficult problems of the world always arise from easy ones,
Major issues of the world always arise from minor ones.
Therefore, the sage never deals with major issues,
Yet his action always leads to major accomplishment.
Those who commit lightly are seldom to be trusted.
Those who assume things to be easy are always met with difficulties.
Therefore, the sage assumes everything to be difficult,
And ends up having no difficulty at all.
Yasuhiko Genku Kimura
The Tao is the source of everything,
The treasure of the good man,
The sustainer of the bad man.
Therefore,
Even the ceremonial splendor of the coronation of the emperor and his three ministers,
And the value of the jewels and the knights' horses,
Are nothing compared to the splendor of this Tao.
Why did the ancients value the Tao?
Is it because it is possible to seek it and find it and liberate sinners with it?
For this reason, the Tao is the most valuable thing in the world.
Good words will nurture our honor,
Good deeds will give a person a good name.
Chou-Wing Chohan
The sage does nothing, and so he never fails -
He holds on to nothing, and so he never loses ...
Whereas the rest of us always seem to mess up our lives just at the moment when we seem to be succeeding!
That's why the sage wants nothing for himself.
He doesn't want precious things or possessions.
What is he?
A Student Of The Unknowable, so he doesn't make mistakes like the rest of us but always tries to help us to be true to who we are without ever standing in our way.
And so he says:
Do things wu-wei, by doing nothing;
Achieve without trying to achieve anything;
Savour the taste of what you cannot taste;
Make a small thing great, and the few into many;
Take on the largest things when they're still small,
Start the hardest things while they're still easy.
It's always the person who thinks things are easy that finds them the hardest in the end.
The way he sees it: everything's potentially tricky, so he never ends up out of his depth.
Man-Ho Kwok
Act by means of inaction;
Deal with matters by means of not being meddlesome;
Taste by means of tastelessness.
The big stems from the small;
The many is based on the few.
To overcome the difficult should begin with the easy;
To accomplish what is big should begin with the small.
The difficult things in the world must originate in the easy;
The big things in the world must take root in the small.
That is why the sage can accomplish what is great by never attempting to be great.
Light promise-giving, light promise-breaking;
The easier one considers things, the more difficult things become.
That is why the sage never meets with difficulty
Because he always considers things difficult.
Gu Zhengkun
Do that which takes no action.
Deal with that which engenders no effort.
Taste that which has no flavour.
Treat the small as the great.
Return enmity with virtue.
Plan the difficult as the easy.
Carry out the hard work as if it were the finer details.
The difficult things under Heaven come from the easy things.
Great matter is made up of minor matter.
Therefore the sage does not try to be great, and thus he can be great.
He who makes easy promises can be little trusted.
He who considers things to be easy will meet many difficulties.
That is why the sage expects difficulties, and therefore encounters none.
Chao-Hsiu Chen
One does things so that one needs to do nothing.
One takes actions so that one needs no action.
One tastes so that one can appreciate tastelessness.
One values what is small or little, and returns good for evil.
One starts from the easiest to achieve the most difficult.
One starts from the most trivial to achieve the highest.
For it is only by taking easy measures
That one can achieve the most difficult in the world.
It is only by taking trivial steps
That one can achieve the highest in the world.
Therefore, the wise person who never looks important
Is able to be the most important.
Those who make hasty promises can rarely keep them.
Those who think nothing difficult will have many difficulties.
That is why the wise person worries about difficulties
And can therefore solve them successfully.
Liu Qixuan
He who practices acting without intent to control fate will find that there is no business which is troubling him to manage.
He who can taste a tasteless thing will learn to regard what is small as great, and a few as many;
and to recompense injury with kindness.
He will deal with things that are difficult while they are easy,
and handle things that would become great while they are still small.
All difficult things in the world arise from an original state of having been easy,
and all great things arise from an original state of having been small.
Therefore the sage never attempts to achieve a great feat.
He who makes promises lightly rarely keeps good faith.
He who likes to think things will be easy will find them difficult.
Therefore the sage sees difficulty even in what seems easy, so they are always free of difficulties.
Shi Fu Hwang
Act non-action; undertake no undertaking; taste the tasteless.
The Sage desires the desireless, and prizes no articles that are difficult to get.
He learns no learning, but reviews what others have passed through.
Thus he lets all things develop in their natural way, and does not venture to act.
Regard the small as great; regard the few as many.
Manage the difficult while they are easy;
Manage the great while they are small.
All difficult things in the world start from the easy;
All great things in the world start from the small.
The tree that fills a man's arms arises from a tender shoot;
The nine-storeyed tower is raised from a heap of earth;
A thousand miles' journey begins from the spot under one's feet.
Therefore the Sage never attempts great things, and thus he can achieve what is great.
He who makes easy promises will seldom keep his word;
He who regards many things as easy will find many difficulties.
Therefore the Sage regards things as difficult, and consequently never has difficulties.
Ch’u Ta-Kao
Acting by inaction;
Doing by not doing;
Tasting by not tasting.
Whether it is great or small, whether it is much or little,
Always repaying malice with virtue.
Planning difficulties from the easier.
Employing the great from the small.
The world's difficult things surely begin with the easy.
The world's great things surely begin with the small.
Therefore, the Sage never does anything to be great
And so accomplishes greatness.
To take one's promises lightly results in little confidence.
To take things too easily results in much difficulty.
Therefore, even the Sage takes things seriously.
And never has any difficulty.
Paul J. Lin
Be a Non Doer,
work at Not Working,
acquire a taste for that which has no taste.
Treat small things as though they were great;
treat few things as though they were many.
"Reward what is injurious, with kind Te."
Plan difficult things focusing on the easy parts;
do great things focusing on the small details.
Difficult tasks in the world always begin from what is easy,
great tasks in the world always begin from what is small.
And so the Wise Person:
Does not 'do great things',
and so is able to fulfill his greatness.
Yes:
Light agreement is never very trustworthy,
considering everything easy makes everything difficult.
And so the Wise Person:
Treats things as difficult,
and in the end has no difficulty.
Michael LaFargue
Abide by inaction.
Do not crave for accomplishment.
Discard learning.
Regard great, small, much and little as the same.
Deal with what is easy as though it were difficult;
with what is trivial as though it were important.
The world's difficult tasks may appear easy in the beginning, just as the world's great achievements may appear small in the beginning.
Because the Sage does not go about great undertakings, he is able to accomplish great things.
He who lightly makes promises will surely be found wanting in good faith.
He who often underestimates difficult tasks will surely be beset with difficulties.
Because the Sage is always aware of the existence of difficulties, he never encounters difficulties.
Cheng Lin
Act through non-action,
Serve through non-doing,
Taste through non-tasting,
Do the great through the small,
Deal with the myriad through the few,
Repay malice with virtue,
Solve the difficult problem at its easiest,
Do the great work at its smallest.
The difficult affairs of the world surely start from the easy,
The great works of the world surely begin from the small.
Therefore, the sage, never doing anything for greatness,
Is able to achieve greatness.
One who promises lightly surely will not be trustworthy;
One who thinks everything easy will end in more difficulty.
Therefore, the sage, taking everything as difficult,
Will have no difficulty in the end.
Yi Wu
Normal people act rashly, but the sage does not.
Normal people interfere freely, but the sage is different.
Normal people prefer tasty cuisine, but the sage prefers plain food.
The sage will deal with all matters, big or small, by always recompensing ill will with goodwill.
To solve a complex issue, you must first start working with the easy problems.
To accomplish a huge task, you must start and graduate from a series of simpler tasks.
To solve the most complex problem, you must tackle the simplest one first.
The greatest task in the world is often the aggregation of smaller tasks.
The sage has never endeavoured to accomplish a great task.
Yet, he accomplishes a great task.
A person who readily gives promises often fails to keep them.
A person who takes things too lightly will definitely be plagued with many problems.
The sage regards everything as potentially troublesome.
Consequently, he will never encounter any difficulty.
Han Hiong Tan
Do that which is not done by doing.
Make that which is not made by making.
Taste that which cannot be distinguished by taste.
Hold the same regard for the few and the many.
Requite the unkind with kindness.
Thus, one of subtle virtue desires what is not connected with desire,
sets no value on the rare goods of the world,
learns what is not learned through learning,
and induces people to return to that which they have overlooked.
Hua-Ching Ni
Action or non-action, work or non-work, knowledge or non-knowledge,
Large or small, more or less:
It is just like returning hatred with love,
Contemplating the difficult with the easy,
Working on the great through the small.
Because the hard tasks in the world must be preceded by what is easy,
Great affairs in the world must begin with what is minute.
Hence, the wise never works on what is great;
He achieves what is great.
The easier it is to promise a thing,
The less one can fulfill.
The more lightly things are taken,
The more difficulties occur.
Therefore, the wise takes things as difficult;
He is always free from the difficult.
Chang Chung-yuan
Practice non-interference.
Assert non-assertion.
Taste the tasteless.
Regard small as great, little as much.
Requite evil with virtue.
Tackle difficult tasks while they are easy;
Perform great tasks while they are small.
Difficult tasks must be begun when yet easy;
Great tasks must be begun when yet small.
That's why the Sage, to the end of his days,
Does not have to tackle great tasks,
And for this very reason achieves greatness.
Promises lightly made show little good faith;
Duties neglected are bound to become difficult.
That's why the Sage assumes things to be difficult,
And never in life incurs any difficulty.
Henry Wei
Act through no-action,
Attend to no-affair,
Relish no-flavor,
Take the small as big and the few as many.
Repay hatred with Te.
Plan difficult things while they are easy.
Handle big things while they are small.
Difficult things under Heaven
Always arise from what is easy;
Big things under Heaven
Always arise from what is small.
For this reason the sage
Never intends big things,
And thus can accomplish big things.
He who agrees lightly invariably inspires little faith.
He who considers many things easy invariably encounters many difficulties.
For this reason even the sage considers things difficult;
Therefore he never encounters difficulties.
Ha Poong Kim
Do nondoing.
Engage in non-affairs.
Savor non-flavor.
Large or small, many or few, reward or punishment, are all being done through Action.
Seek what is difficult with ease.
Effect what is great while it is small.
The most difficult things in the world are done while they are easy.
The greatest things in the world are done while they are small.
The sage never plans to do a great thing.
Thus, he accomplishes what is great.
Facile promises necessarily result in little trust.
What is easy necessarily entails difficulty.
Thus the sage, through extreme trials, encounters no difficulty.
Tao Huang
Do not interfere;
prepare the unprepared;
and think the unthinkable.
No matter whether it is great or small, whether it is much or little, hatred must be met with love.
Therefore, resolve the difficulty when it is easy.
Change the graveness when it is insignificant.
A difficult world affair must be solved when it is still easy.
A grave world situation must be changed when it is insignificant.
However, the Sage ruler never wishes himself to be superior, therefore he eventually becomes superior.
Hence an easy promise must result in promise-breaking.
Frequent easy-goings meet more difficulties.
A Sage was always aware of difficulties, thus he met no difficulty at last.
Tang Zi-chang
Act without action.
Do without ado.
Taste without tasting.
Whether it is big or small, many or few, repay hatred with virtue.
Prepare for the difficult while it is still easy.
Deal with the big while it is still small.
Difficult undertakings have always started with what is easy.
And great undertakings have always started with what is small.
Therefore the sage never strives for the great,
And thereby the great is achieved.
He who makes rash promises surely lacks faith.
He who takes things too easily will surely encounter much difficulty.
For this reason even the sage regards things as difficult.
And therefore he encounters no difficulty.
Wing-tsit Chan