Daodejing Chapter 50: life and death

Richard Brown
1 min readJul 31, 2023

Everyone passes
From birth to death,
One third are companions of life.
One third are companions of death.
One third cling so tightly to life,
That they enter the field of death.
Why is this so?
Because they set
Too much store by life.
It is said:
People who know how to live properly,
Travel the earth without
Encountering a rhinoceros or a tiger,
Go into battle without
Donning armour or weapons.
The rhinoceros finds no spot
To gore them with its horns.
The tiger finds no spot
To sink its claws into them.
The weapon finds no spot
To pierce them with its blade.
Why is this so?
Because they are not
In the field of death.

「出生入死,生之徒,十有三;死之徒,十有三;人之生,動之死地,亦十有三。夫何故?以其生生之厚。蓋聞善攝生者,陸行不遇兕虎,入軍不被甲兵,兕無所投其角,虎無所措其爪,兵無所容其刃,夫何故?以其無死地!」

It is only by accepting the inevitability of death as part of the natural cycle that you can live your life to its full. The harder you strive to cling to life, the more you suck the joy out of it and make yourself vulnerable to an untimely demise.

Note
I took this image at Longhu (Dragon Tiger) Mountain, a famous Daoist site about ten miles south of Yingtan in Jiangxi Province. A great place to visit!

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Richard Brown

I live in Taiwan and am interested in exploring what ancient Chinese philosophy can tell us about technology and the rise of modern China.