In ancient times, those who followed the Way
did not educate the people, but kept them ignorant.
They reckoned it difficult to govern an educated people:
thus, promoting learning would harm the state,
while promoting ignorance would benefit the state.

True mastery of knowledge and ignorance
also finds a basis for mental discipline.
True mastery of this discipline
is called Subtle Virtue.
Subtle Virtue is deep and far-reaching,
and returns things to their natural flow.

 


chapter notes:

As advocacy of mass ignorance is the subject of the first verse, I can find no honest way to translate it without acknowledging this. I have resorted to simple historical acknowledgement, rather than attempting to justify it in some modern sense.

The second verse is a simple statement of one aspect of Daoism I find personally useful.