All the world calls me great,
although I don’t seem like much.
Well, it is only because I don’t seem like much
that I can be great:
If I were like something else,
I would always remain small!

I have three things of true value:
the first is compassion;
the second is economy;
the third is not pushing to the front.

Compassion permits courage.
Economy permits generosity.
Not pushing to the front permits leadership.

Courage without compassion;
generosity without economy;
leading from the front:
these things lead to death.

Compassion leads to victory in war,
and security in defense.
That which Heaven would establish,
it first surrounds with compassion.

 


chapter notes:

This chapter is a straightforward translation.

My understanding of this chapter is that, while “compassion” here implies deep empathy and understanding, it does not necessarily imply benevolent action as a consequence; q.v. chapter 5.