The way of the ordinary low-thinking person is not always The Way. Such low-thinking people take profits from those who are poor and give to those who are rich, so that the rich shall support them in their purpose, which is base and always self-seeking. They cheat and make profit and believe that they have done well; such are cursed believers in the unbelievable and the convenient. They are less than beasts, as they know in their reality of better.
The Way is as supple as a bow; bending as the willow. The wisdom of The Way makes the high lower, and the lowly by it are raised. It shortens the string which has been stretched, and lengthens that which has become too short. It is the way of the wise leader who will take from those who have a surplus to what they need, so providing for those without enough.
Man is born gentle and supple. At death, his body is brittle and hard. Living plants are tender, and filled with life-giving sap, but at their death they are withered and dry. The stiff, the hard, and brittle are harbingers of death, and gentleness and yielding are the signs of that which lives. The warrior who is inflexible condemns himself to death; and the tree is easily broken which ever refuses to yield in the storm. Thus the hard and brittle will surely fall, and the soft and supple will overcome.
A man has no knowledge of that which he does not know. He is oblivious to what there is to be known when he has no knowledge of its existence. In other words, you don't know that you don't know, what you don't know.
People who live in the same place all their lives are unlikely to have any knowledge outside their place. They nevertheless consider that they know all there is to know as it appears to them, for they are limited by experience that has never been stretched, as their minds have never been stretched. Their mind’s outlook and horizons are therefore shrunk, in order to fit that small place limited by their close horizons. Their outlook becomes blind to anything that they do not know, and it therefore does not exist for them. Their chosen lack of knowledge therefore prevents them from understanding; their conceit allowing them to believe that they know all there is to know, even that of which they cannot possibly conceive, because of their limitations created by their small environments.
When taxes are too heavy, hunger lays the people low. When those who govern interfere too much, the people become rebellious. When those who govern demand too much of people’s lives, death is taken lightly. When the people are starving in the land, life is of little value, and so is more easily sacrificed by them in overthrowing government.
If the people are not afraid of death, they have no fear of threats of death. If early death is common in the land, and if death is meted out as punishment, the people do not fear to break the law. To be the executioner in such a land as this, is to be as an unskilled carpenter who cuts his hand when trying to cut wood. The punisher becomes brutalised by his own brutality.