I would make the people return to the use of knotted cords (instead of the written characters).As Derek Lin explains it, this line is about the virtues of simplicity.
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~
Men return to the knotting of rope in place of writing.
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~
Let the people return to tying knots and using them
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~
They had so few responsibilities,
they never had to make a To-Do list to remember what had to be done.
~ Ron Hogan rendition, from Beatrice.com, 2004 ~
"Tying knots" was a way for people to record events. It is a general metaphor for simple solutions, which are often the most effective and reliable solutions.To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.