Daodejing Chapter 51: this is called primal power

Richard Brown
1 min readAug 3, 2023

The Dao gives birth.
The power nourishes.
Matter produces form.
Energy consummates.
The myriad things
Revere the Dao,
Cherish the power.
The Dao gives birth,
The power nourishes,
Not because it is decreed,
But because it is natural to do so.
The Dao gives birth,
The power nourishes,
Raises and matures,
Tends and shields.
Giving birth without possessing,
Acting without attachment,
Leading without controlling,
This is called primal power.

「道生之,德蓄之,物形之,勢成之。是以萬物莫不遵道而貴德。道之生,德之貴,夫莫之命而常自然。故道生之,德蓄之,長之育之,亭之毒之,養之覆之。生而弗有,為而弗恃,長而弗宰,是謂玄德。」

The Dao (道/dào) is the source of all things and the ultimate principle underlying the universe. The power (德/dé) is the nurturing force that sustains the myriad things. The two of them are like two sides of the same coin; one cannot operate without the other.

The Dao and the power do not seek to dominate the world. They spontaneously permit each thing to follow its own natural course without any intent or, indeed, any expectation of gratitude in return.

Paradoxically, of course, it is precisely because they demand no gratitude or respect that they are revered and cherished by all things.

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.