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When a minister serves a ruler after the principle of TAO, he will not advise a resort to force of arms to become a great nation. Like returns to like. So briars and thorns grow rank where an army camps. Bad years of want and disorder follow a great war.

Therefore, the competent ruler, resolutely restraining his desires and ambition, dares not resort to force. Because he is resolute, he will not be boastful, nor haughty, nor arrogant; because he is resolute he will act only under necessity; because he is resolute, he will have no ambition to be powerful.

By the nature of things, when the strength of anything is fully developed, it immediately begins to decay. This means that strength is not in accordance

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with the principle of TAO. Being not in accordance with TAO, it will soon pass away.

Next: Chapter 31