Whoever takes the empire and wishes to do anything to it I see will have no respite. The empire is a sacred vessel and nothing should be done to it. Whoever does anything to it will ruin it; whoever lays hold of it will lose it.
Hence some things lead and some follow;
Some breathe gently and some hard;
Some are strong and some are weak;
Some destroy and some are destroyed.
Therefore the sage avoids excess, extravagence, and arrogance.
The message becomes more and more clear to me: the sage neither struggles nor conspires to achieve and sustain the power of the state.