Daodejing: safe from harm

Richard Brown
2 min readApr 2, 2024

The Daodejing advocates a cautious approach to life that is in tune with the flow of nature and keeps you safe from harm. It has no time for swaggering heroes who put themselves and others at unnecessary risk in pursuit of glory and riches.

Daring to be bold means death.
Daring not to be bold preserves life.
Of the two, one benefits and one harms.

Chapter 73

“Daring not to be bold” means avoiding extreme behaviours that place you in danger. Allowing your emotions control your actions is one of the riskiest of these because it can lead to an early demise.

Letting your heart-and-mind
Direct your vital energy
Means resorting to force.
Brute force ages quickly.
It goes against the Dao.
Going against the Dao
Leads to an early end.


Chapter 55

The pursuit of excessive wealth and power is another behaviour that can cause you serious problems. Far from deterring bandits and thieves, storing your riches in a fortified vault is more likely to make you an even more vulnerable target. A promotion to a higher position that you are not qualified for can be a poisoned chalice. The key is knowing when enough is enough so that you do not overreach.

Your name or your person:
Which matters more?
Your person or your property:
Which is worth more?
Your gain or your loss:
Which causes more harm?
Excessive love costs you dear.
Hoarding causes great loss.
Know contentment,
And you will suffer no disgrace.
Know when to stop,
And you will encounter no danger.
In this way, you will endure.

Chapter 44

Showing modesty and compassion, helping the community, and quietly going about your business without expectation of recognition or reward. These are the qualities you need to lead a balanced and rewarding life and stay safe from harm.

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.

Chapter 81

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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.