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The Way gives life;
Virtue supports it.
Programs take form;
their usefulness completes them.

Therefore,
the ten thousand programs honor the Way,
and respect Virtue.
Honoring the Way, respecting Virtue:
nothing compels this;
by its very nature, it is so.

The Way, and the Virtue of the project:
together, they
generate and support it,
develop and maintain it,
protect and defend it,
host and secure it.

Creating without possessing,
taking action without demanding credit,
completing without controlling:
this is called Subtle Virtue.

 


chapter notes:

In addition to targeting programs instead of generic “things”, I have tried to pursue specific interpretation of the sense of the generic original.

The content of the second verse is still somewhat subtle: it defines the *sense* in which things honor the Way. The point, as I understand it, is that we are not speaking of any kind of anthropomorphic honor and respect — only that Virtue and the Way are essential aspects of the origin, development, and functioning of things, so their natural operation necessarily reflects that.

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