lipu Pona la: kasi nanpa 60 pi lipu Nasin Pona

治大国若烹小鲜   Governing a large country is like cooking a small fish. 1
以道莅天下   When you govern people with the Way
其鬼不神   Unhappy ghosts2 will have no power3.
非其鬼不神   Not that they don’t have power,
其神不伤人   But their power will not harm people.
非其神不伤人   Not only does their power not harm people:
圣人亦不伤人   The sage also doesn’t harm people,
夫两不相伤   Since the two do not harm each other.
故德交归焉   Their virtue converges. 4

Sitelen Sitelen Renderer by Olaf Janssen.

  1. [Muller:] “A small fish can be cooked without a great deal of preparation, cleaning, spicing, etc. Ruling with the Dao means ruling without interfering.” 

  2. [Muller:] “Spirits of people who died early, in some unfortunate way, or without descendants, who mingle in the world and plague people.” 

  3. [Muller:] “Translated elsewhere as “numinousity,” “spiritual power,” etc.” 

  4. [Muller:] “The interpretation of this final line varies widely among translators; we decided to try to remain terse and close to the literal meaning here.” 

Acknowledgements / Notes