That which is at rest can easily be taken hold of. That which has not yet become important, can be easily prevented. The fragile is easily broken, light things are easily scattered. It is wise to be prepared for difficulties and to establish order before there is disorder. A tree that it takes both arms to encircle grew from a tiny rootlet. A many storied pagoda is built by placing one brick upon another brick. A journey of three thousand miles is begun by a single step. If one attempts to govern either himself or another, he is bound to make a failure of it. If he tries to grasp anything, it slips away from him.
The perfect Sage, therefore, by practicing wu-wei and making no attempts, makes no failures, and because he does not grasp anything, he has nothing to lose. People in their eagerness are ever approaching success only to continually fail. If one is to succeed, he must be as careful to the end as at the beginning.
Therefore, the perfect Sage has no desire for things that are difficult to obtain, nor does he value them. He learns to be unlearned; he turns away from that which others greedily seek. In that spirit he helps
all things toward their natural development but dares not attempt to force their development.