the age was suitable and their mission a success over the empire, they simply effaced themselves in the unity which prevailed. If the age was unsuitable and their mission a failure, they fell back upon their own resources and waited. Such is the way to preserve oneself.
Those of old who preserved themselves, did not ornament their knowledge with rhetoric. They did not exhaust the empire with their knowledge. They did not exhaust virtue. They kept quietly to their own spheres, and reverted to their natural instincts. What then was left for them to do?
Tao does not deal with detail. Virtue does not take cognizance of trifles. Trifles injure virtue; detail injures Tao. Wherefore it has been said, "Self-reformation is enough." He whose happiness is complete has attained his desire.
Of old, attainment of desire did not mean office. It meant that nothing could be added to the sum of happiness. But now it does mean office, though office is external and is not a part of oneself. That which is adventitious, comes. Coming, you cannot prevent it; going, you cannot arrest it. Therefore, not to look on office as the attainment of desire, and not because of poverty to become a toady, but to be equally happy under all conditions,—this is to be without sorrow.
But now-a-days, both having and not having
are causes of unhappiness. From which we may