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The Tao Teh King: A Short Study in Comparative Religion, by C. Spurgeon Medhurst, [1905], at

p. 101


Govern a great state as you would fry a small fish.

Employ the Tao to establish the Empire and the Daemons will display no energy; not that they are devoid of energy, but that they will not use it to man's detriment; (further) not only will man suffer no hurt from the Daemons but he will not be injured by the sages.

When neither harm, the attributes of the Tao blend and converge. 1

Error cannot withstand truth. To practice the constant presence of God is the surest talisman against all evil. To him who dwells "in the secret place of the Most High" it is ever true that he knows neither the evil nor the plague. "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper." (Vid. Psa. xci.)


101:1 With one accord Lao-tzu's translators condemn this chapter as utterly unintelligible, it may therefore be as well to supply a paraphrase.

As a small fish stewing in the pan will be broken up if it be moved about too much, so will the Empire be fatally injured if its natural development be interfered with. The only safe course is to follow the Tao, That if employed for the regulation of mankind will make everyone a Sage in due course in which case all will be safe from evil. The daemons could harm no one if there were not some affinity between them and the injured, and in like manner the Sages can only benefit those who are akin with themselves. Lao-tzu in the text expresses this by saying that mankind will receive no hurt from the Sages, that is to say they will receive positive good, for the absence of benefits is in itself an injury. When, in a word, the Tao is supreme, man receives neither positive harm from the spiritual forces which surround him, nor negative injury from the Elders of his race, who are ever ready to help all capable of receiving it. Cf. chap. 66.

"Attributes of the Tao" is represented in the Chinese by the character elsewhere translated "Energy." See index.

Next: Chapter LXI