57. 1. A state may be ruled by (measures of) correction; weapons of war maybe used with crafty dexterity; (but) the kingdom is made one's own (only) by freedom from action and purpose.
2. How do I know that it is so? By these
facts:--In the kingdom the multiplication of prohibitive enactments increases the poverty of the people; the more implements to add to their profit that the people have, the greater disorder is there in the state and clan; the more acts of crafty dexterity that men possess, the more do strange contrivances appear; the more display there is of legislation, the more thieves and robbers there are.
3. Therefore a sage has said, 'I will do nothing (of purpose), and the people will be transformed of themselves; I will be fond of keeping still, and the people will of themselves become correct. I will take no trouble about it, and the people will of themselves become rich; I will manifest no ambition, and the people will of themselves attain to the primitive simplicity.'
, 'The Genuine Influence.' The chapter shows how government by the Tâo is alone effective, and of universal application; contrasting it with the failure of other methods.
After the 'weapons of war' in par. 1, one is tempted to take 'the sharp implements' in par. 2 as such weapons, but the meaning which I finally adopted, especially after studying chapters 36 and 80, seems more consonant with Lâo-dze's scheme of thought. In the last member of the same par., Ho-shang Kung has the strange reading of , and uses it in his commentary; but the better text of is found both in Hwâi-nan and Sze-mâ Khien, and in Wang Pî.
We do not know if the writer were quoting any particular sage in par. 3, or referring generally to the sages of the past;--men like the 'sentence-makers' of ch. 41.