Of those in the past that obtained the One:
Heaven obtained the One and became clear;
The earth obtained the One and became tranquil;
The Gods obtained the One and became divine;
The valleys obtained the One and became full;
All things obtained the One and became alive and kept growing;
Kings and lords obtained the One and the world became peaceful.
Taking this to its logical conclusion we may say:
If Heaven had not thus become clear,
It would soon have cracked;
If the earth had not thus become tranquil,
It would soon have broken apart;
If the Gods had not thus become divine,
They would soon have perished;
If the valleys had not thus become full,
They would soon have dried up;
If all things had not thus become alive and kept growing,
They would soon have become extinct;
If kings and lords had not thus become honorable and noble,
They would soon have toppled and fallen.
It is always the case
That the noble takes the humble as its root.
And the high takes the low as its base.
Hence kings and lords call themselves
The orphaned, the solitary or the unworthy.
This is regarding the humble as the root of the noble, is it not?
People disdain the “orphaned,” “solitary” or “unworthy.”
And yet kings and lords call themselves by these terms.
Therefore the highest honor needs no flattering.
Thus with everything—
Sometimes it may increase when decreased,
And sometimes it may decrease when increased.
For this reason—
They desire not to dazzle and glitter like jade,
But to remain firm and plain like stone.