Horses live on the open plains, graze on grass, and drink water. When they're happy, they rub their necks against one another. When angry, they turn away and kick. Horses know how to do this by instinct.
But if we fit them with a bit and a bridle that curves in a crescent over their foreheads, the horses are unwilling to wear them. They bend their necks, buck for a long time, try to slip the bit from their mouths, and pull the reins away. If a horse learns to resist like this, it is the crime of Bo Le.
In the era of He Xu, people lived in their homes without knowing what they were doing. They walked without knowing where they were going. When they ate, they were glad; they slapped their bellies and went on.
The sages came and distorted people with rites and music as they tried to make everyone in the world correct. They spread ideas of benevolence and righteousness to every district and tried to subdue the hearts of everyone in the world.
People began to paw and creep because they now knew of being "good." They grappled with each other to bring back benefits for themselves. It was impossible to stop them.
That is the folly of the sages.Although the noble one has an honored position, they keep a reverent purpose. Their heart is small, while Tao is great. As a consequence, they listen and look at what is near. They hear and see what is far. How can they do that? They carry this skill: they can consider the personalities of a thousand people, or ten thousand, as easily as one person.
From the beginning of heaven and earth until today, from the Tao of the Early Kings to that of the later kings, the noble one investigates the Tao of the Early Kings and analyzes what confronted them. The noble one discusses these issues with others.
They bow, but they are able to bring forth the controlling influence of the rites and of righteousness, separate the difference between right and wrong, gather together all that's crucial in the world, and bring order to all the people within the four seas, all the way to the last person. Thus, they hold with restraint, yet they fulfill their duties with greatness.
A five-inch square can set each corner of the world. The noble one can sense all the facts within the four seas without leaving home or hall--all because they are methodical.
"If no one ruled the world," Cui Ji asked Lao Dan, "how could you pacify anyone's hearts?"
Lao Dan said: "Be careful not to meddle with people's hearts. When you force people's hearts into formation, they falter. If you let them advance, they rise. Alternating between rising and faltering restricts and corrupts.
Pliable and soft, then hard and strong; stiff and sharp enough to carve jade; hot and scorched with fire; cold and solid as ice; quick as an angry jerk; twice as calm as anything beyond the four seas; resting in the stillness of an abyss; hurtling like the regions of heaven; resolute, spirited, refusing to be bound--that is the human heart!