Daodejing Chapter 77: like shooting with a bow

Richard Brown
2 min readNov 10, 2023

The Dao of heaven
Is like shooting with a bow.
If you aim it too high,
You lower it.
If you aim it too low,
You raise it.
If you use too much force,
You reduce it.
If you do not use enough force,
You increase it.
The Dao of heaven
Takes from those
Who have too much,
And gives to those
Who do not have enough.
The Dao of man
Does the opposite.
It takes from those
Who do not have enough,
And gives to those
Who have too much.
Who can give to the world
Everything they have in excess?
Only someone who
Has attained the Dao.
The sage gets things done
Without seeking profit.
He accomplishes his task
Without claiming credit.
He has no desire
To display his worth.

「天之道,其猶張弓與!高者抑之,下者舉之,有餘者損之,不足者補之。天之道,損有餘而補不足。人之道則不然,損不足以奉有餘。孰能有餘以奉天下?唯有道者。是以聖人為而不恃,功成而不處,其不欲見賢。」

Keep your eye on the prize. Even if there are times when you have to adjust your approach to maintain your balance, never lose sight of what you are ultimately aiming to achieve.

Do not allow the lack of recognition from others to discourage you in your venture. You are not pursuing it for fame and glory. If you happen to generate unimaginable riches from it, do not let all your newfound wealth go to your head and be sure to give back to those who need it.

Notes
1.) In this passage, Laozi issues a powerful statement against human greed and injustice by comparing the Day of heaven, which takes from the rich to help the poor, with the Dao of man, who robs the poor to make the rich even wealthier. It is the duty of the sage ruler to restore fairness and balance by ensuring that society operates in accordance with nature and the Dao. See also:

Daodejing Chapter 44: when is enough enough?

2.) I took this image at the Baoan Daoist Temple in Taipei.

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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.