Daodejing Chapter 81: the last word

Richard Brown
1 min readNov 25, 2023

Trustworthy words are not beautiful.
Beautiful words are not trustworthy.
The good are not silver-tongued.
The silver-tongued are not good.
The wise are not learned.
The learned are not wise.
The sage does not hoard.
The more he serves,
The more he has.
The more he gives,
The more he receives.
The Dao of heaven is to
Benefit but never harm.
The Dao of the sage is to
Accomplish but never contend.

「信言不美,美言不信;善者不辯,辯者不善;知者不博,博者不知;聖人不積,既以為人己愈有,既以與人己愈多。天之道,利而不害;聖人之道,為而不爭。」

Life is not a competition. There is no point in wasting precious time and energy worrying whether other people are doing “better” than you. Screen out the noise from all the so-called experts and embrace the flow of nature. When your actions are in sync with the Dao, you will achieve amazing things.

Notes
This is generally accepted as the final chapter of the Daodejing, though there are some scholars who argue otherwise. It provides a very timely warning to not allow yourself to be deceived by fancy words and contrived learning and to stick with the true, the good, and the wise.

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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.