Take action without force.
Pursue your interests without self-interest.
Keep the Way in mind.

Handle the small like the great.
Handle the few like the many.
Handle anger with Virtue.

Handle the difficult by addressing the easy;
handle the great by addressing the small:
in this world, the difficult is born of the easy,
and the great is born of the small.

Therefore, the Consultant
does not take great action:
that way, he can accomplish great things.

He who makes agreements lightly is unreliable.
He who thinks everything is easy will find many difficulties.

Therefore, the Consultant
thinks everything is difficult:
that way, he finds no difficulties.


chapter notes:

In the first verse, I have converted “taste the tasteless” to “keep the way in mind” — rather than propagate a trivial riddle opaque to my primary audience, I have answered it.

Note that, in combination, “handle the small like the great” and “handle the great by addressing the small” can be read as a prescription for recursive decomposition (which is useful for both problem solving and algorithm design).