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Peace is easily maintained;
Trouble is easily overcome before it starts.
The brittle is easily shattered;
The small is easily scattered.
Deal with it before it happens.
Set things in order before there is confusion.
A tree as great as a man’s embrace springs up from a small shoot;
A terrace nine stories high begins with a pile of earth;
A journey of a thousand miles starts under one’s feet.
He who acts defeats his own purpose;
He who grasps loses.
The sage does not act, and so is not defeated.
He does not grasp and therefore does not lose.
People usually fail when they are on the verge of success.
So give as much care to the end as to the beginning;
Then there will be no failure.
Therefore the sage seeks freedom from desire.
He does not collect precious things.
He learns not to hold on to ideas.
He brings men back to what they have lost.
He helps the ten thousand things find their own nature,
But refrains from action.
(Translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English )
(A journey of a thousand miles starts under one’s feet.)
When the situation is stable, it is easy to maintain. It is easy to plot when there are no signs of incidents. When things are fragile, they are easily digested. When things are subtle, they are quickly dissipated. Things must be handled properly before they occur. Government affairs must be prepared before the disaster hit.
This chapter is the continuation of the previous chapter, Lao Tzu again reminded us the big things always begins with small things, and there is the process for their occurrence, change and development, through this process we can pay heed to the occurrence of any disaster thereby we can prevent it from happening.
Lao Tzu further expounds the law of the development and changes of things by giving us three examples-A tree with a full span’s girth springs up from a small shoot. A nine-storied terrace begins with a pile of earth, and a journey of a thousand miles starts under one’s feet. He proved something big is developed from the tiny things. He told us no matter what we do; we should follow the law of nature to start from the small thing, patiently and diligently one after another with the strong will and never slack, so we will not fail before the end.