善行無轍迹 善言無瑕讁 善數不用籌策 A good education isn't learning by rote, a good lesson isn't punishment for failing, a good outcome isn't in data and stats.
善閉無關楗而不可開 Healthy boundaries don't guard the gate, but can't be breached. 善結無繩約而不可解 Healthy relationships don't pledge allegiance, but can't be betrayed.
是以聖人 常善救人故無棄人 常善救物故無棄物 That's because a good influence is always willing to help someone so no one gets left behind, always happy to repeat something so nothing gets forgotten. 是謂襲明 They call it passing the torch.
故善人者不善人之師 不善人者善人之資 So a good mentor is an expert at helping bad students, and bad students are the good person's responsibility. 不貴其師 不愛其資 雖智大迷 Not respecting the expert, not accepting the responsibility, might seem smart, but they're big mistakes. 是謂要妙 They call it making the grade.
The five 善 expressions are very flexible. Here are a few variations with an attempt at consistent grammar, literal in Kroll first edition.
- 善行無轍迹 Walking well / a good road, no ruts to follow. Good conduct, no precedent to emulate.
- 善言無瑕讁 Speaking well, no fault to punish.
- 善數不用籌策 Good counting, not using tally rod to predict. Good fate, not using lots to predict. Good numerology, not using yarrow stalks to predict. Crafting well, not using counting rod or bamboo strips. Rebuking well, not using counting rod to whip.
- 善閉無關楗而不可開 Blocking / stopping well, no juncture to block up, but can't be opened / started.
- 善結無繩約而不可解 Thatching well, no ropes to bind, but can't be loosened. Making friends well / a good outcome, no standard to promise, but can't be taken apart.
善救 is an expression that appears in this poem and in Guliang Zhuan, but nowhere else in ctext. I take it to mean, "Happy, willing and able to help." It's 善 as good will.
師 is the expert and 資 is the expert's subject matter.
Both 襲明 and 要妙 appear as compounds in a handful of passages in ctext. 要妙 is essential and subtle in Kroll, but I've interpreted them both as verb phrases here.
In Heshanggong, 要 is the 微妙 inside 道 (its sacred heart?) that can be experienced by those who 除情 and 去慾, but it's inaccessible to those who lust for life, who can sense only its external ephemera.