Daodejing Second Half Article Links

Richard Brown
4 min readFeb 21, 2024

The second half of the received version of the Daodejing comprises Chapter 38 to Chapter 81. It examines the nature of power or virtue (德) and provides practical wisdom on how to embody the Dao through wuwei (無為), or effortless action, and leading a life of simplicity and humility. Click on the links below to learn more about each chapter.

Daodejing Chapter 38: higher power
Daodejing Chapter 38 breakdown: the fruit of the Dao
Daodejing Chapter 39: attaining the one
Daodejing Chapter 39 breakdown: taking the humble as the root
Daodejing Chapter 40: being and non-being
Daodejing Chapter 40 breakdown: the origin of existence
Daodejing Chapter 41: challenging conventional expectations
Daodejing Chapter 41 breakdown: the dim light of the Dao
Daodejing Chapter 42: the origin of the myriad things
Daodejing Chapter 42 breakdown: the one
Daodejing Chapter 43: the value of effortless action
Daodejing Chapter 43: the softest overcomes the hardest
Daodejing Chapter 44: when is enough enough?
Daodejing Chapter 44 breakdown: knowing when to stop
Daodejing Chapter 45: calm and still
Daodejing Chapter 45 breakdown: great perfection
Daodejing Chapter 46: true contentment
Daodejing Chapter 46 breakdown: the finest steeds
Daodejing Chapter 47: the further you go, the less you know
Daodejing Chapter 47 breakdown: the Daoist knows without travelling around
Daodejing Chapter 48: decrease and decrease again
Daodejing Chapter 48 breakdown: nothing is left undone
Daodejing Chapter 49: the Daoist has no heart-and-mind
Daodejing Chapter 49 breakdown: humble and cautious
Daodejing Chapter 50: life and death
Daodejing Chapter 50 breakdown: the field of death
Daodejing Chapter 51: this is called primal power
Daodejing Chapter 51 breakdown: cherish the power
Daodejing Chapter 52: use the light
Daodejing Chapter 52 breakdown: the mother-of-all-under heaven
Daodejing Chapter 53: the court is arrayed in splendour
Daodejing Chapter 53 breakdown: the fields are choked with weeds
Daodejing Chapter 54: the ripple effect
Daodejing Chapter 54 breakdown: a firmly rooted plant
Daodejing Chapter 55: like an infant
Daodejing Chapter 55 breakdown: poisonous insects and predatory birds
Daodejing Chapter 56: primal union
Daodejing Chapter 56 breakdown: valued by all-under-heaven
Daodejing Chapter 57: win over the world through non-interference
Daodejing Chapter 57 breakdown: non-interference
Daodejing Chapter 58: fortune and misfortune
Daodejing Chapter 58 breakdown: the sage is pointed but does not pierce
Daodejing Chapter 59: nothing beats prudence
Daodejing Chapter 59 breakdown: a deep root and firm stalk
Daodejing Chapter 60: like cooking a small fish
Daodejing Chapter 60 breakdown: when the Dao prevails
Daodejing Chapter 61: lying beneath
Daodejing Chapter 61 breakdown: the female of all-under-heaven
Daodejing Chapter 62: the sanctuary for the myriad things
Daodejing Chapter 62 breakdown: prized by all-under-heaven
Daodejing Chapter 63: act with effortless action
Daodejing Chapter 63 breakdown: tackle the difficult when it is easy
Daodejing Chapter 64: a journey of a thousand miles
Daodejing Chapter 64 breakdown: act before something happens
Daodejing Chapter 65: too much cleverness
Daodejing Chapter 65 breakdown: Daoist sages of ancient times
Daodejing Chapter 66: kings of the hundred valleys
Daodejing Chapter 66 breakdown: rivers and oceans
Daodejing Chapter 67: compassion and courageousness
Daodejing Chapter 67 breakdown: the three treasures
Daodejing Chapter 68: the power of non-contention
Daodejing Chapter 68 breakdown: a great warrior is never roused in anger
Daodejing Chapter 69: advancing without advancing
Daodejing Chapter 69 breakdown: defence is the best offence
Daodejing Chapter 70: brown sackcloth and jade
Daodejing Chapter 70 breakdown: easy to understand and practice
Daodejing Chapter 71: sickness and knowledge
Daodejing Chapter 71 breakdown: the sage is not sick
Daodejing Chapter 72: staying in the background
Daodejing Chapter 72 breakdown: an even greater terror
Daodejing Chapter 73: bravado and courage
Daodejing Chapter 73 breakdown: heaven’s net is vast
Daodejing Chapter 74: laying down the law
Daodejing Chapter 74 breakdown: when the people do not fear death
Daodejing Chapter 75: tightening their belts
Daodejing Chapter 75 breakdown: the people starve
Daodejing Chapter 76: soft and weak
Daodejing Chapter 76 breakdown: the hard and strong fall
Daodejing Chapter 77: like shooting with a bow
Daodejing Chapter 77 breakdown: the Dao of heaven
Daodejing Chapter 78: the filth of the state
Daodejing Chapter 78 breakdown: like water
Daodejing Chapter 79: a bitter dispute
Daodejing Chapter 79 breakdown: holding the left tally
Daodejing Chapter 80: a primordial age of innocence
Daodejing Chapter 80 breakdown: living in splendid isolation
Daodejing Chapter 81: the last word
Daodejing Chapter 81 breakdown: a fitting conclusion

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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.