|1.||Warriors who excel do not parade;|
|2.||Commanders who excel do not anger;|
|3.||Victors who excel don't lightly engage;|
|4.||Skilled managers of men are humble:|
|5.||This defines the power of no-conflict,|
|6.||The way to manage men's strength,|
|7.||The union with heaven, the acme of old.|
COMMENT The previous stanz a emphasized them aternal virtues; this stanza complements it by emphasizing their male form.
According to this stanza, restraint is the qualification for becoming an ideal ruler, like Wenwang (King Wen, “the civil king”). The closing line has the phrase peitian (matching heaven), which is also used in the Book of Odes, in odes “Wenwang” and “Si Wen. ” A marital term, peitian means becoming a partner to heaven, hence, heaven's mandated representative. This borrowing from the Odes is another case of incorporating Confucian political terms into the Daoist agenda. In the Book of Odes the virtue of Wenwang qualifies him to receive the mandate of heaven and overthrow the reigning Shang dynasty. Wenwang came to be considered the founding emperor of the Zhou house, though it was his son, Wuwang, “the martial king, ” who conquered Shang by force of arms.
Gu (old, ancient) appears in line 7 in some texts. This word is used sixty-two times on its own in the Laozi and another thirteen times in combination. Such frequency marks the author's repeated gazing back to a remote time when the ills and evils he describes did not exist. Gu may refer to a pre-Zhou (i.e., Shang) period, or simply to an imagined time of simplicity. Laozi may have lived and written in the kingdom of Chu, which had roots in the Shang and maintained a tradition of resisting Zhou power.