[DDJ Meaning] Chapter 77

Recommended Posts

David Hinton 2002


The Way of heaven is like a drawn bow pulling down the high and raising up the low:
it takes away where there's abundance and restores where there's want.
The Way of heaven takes away where there's abundance
and restores where there's want,
but the Way of humankind isn't like that:
it takes away where there's want
and gives where there's abundance.
Only a master of the Way can give abundance to all beneath heaven.
Such a sage acts without presumption and never dwells on success:
great worth has no need to be seen.


Dwight Goddard 1919


Tao of heaven resembles the stretching of a bow. The mighty it humbles, the lowly it exalts. They who have abundance it diminishes and gives to them who have need.
That is Tao of heaven; it depletes those who abound, and completes those who lack.
The human way is not so. Men take from those who lack to give to those who already abound. Where is the man who by his abundance can best serve the world?
The wise man makes but claims not, he accomplishes merit, yet is not attached to it, neither does he display his excellence. Is it not so?


Bradford Hatcher 2005


Heaven has its path
Compare it to the drawing of a bow
What is high comes to be lowered
What is lowly comes to be raised
What has abundance will be diminished
What is incomplete will be added to
Heaven’s way decreases where there is surplus
And adds to what is insufficient
Humanity’s path is normally not like this,
Decreasing what is not enough
in order to give to what is excessive
Who can claim an abundance
in order to offer to nature?
Only those who keep the way
This is why wise ones develop but do not expect
Accomplish works but do not linger
They have no ambition to show merit


Wing-Tsit Chan 1963


Heaven's Way is indeed like the bending of a bow. When (the string) is high, bring it down. When it is low, raise it up. When it is excessive, reduce it. When it is insufficient, supplement it. 
The Way of Heaven reduces whatever is excessive and supplements whatever in insufficient. The way of man is different. It reduces the insufficient to offer to the excessive. 
Who is able to have excess to offer to the world? Only the man of Tao. 
Therefore the sage acts, but does not rely on his own ability. He accomplishes his task, but does not claim credit for it. He has no desire to display his excellence. 



Gu Zhengku 1993


Does not the Tao of heaven resemble the bending of a bow (aiming):
Pressing down the high,
Lifting up the low,
Reducing the excessive,
Compensating the deficient?
So the Tao of heaven means to compensate the deficient by reducing the excess.
The Tao of man is different:
It gives to one who already has more than enough by taking from one who is in want.
Who can offer what he has in excess to the people?
Only the man of Tao.
Thus the sage
Benefits all things without claiming to be their benefactor;
Succeeds without claiming credit;
Because he does not want to show off his wisdom.



Ch'u Ta-Kao 1904


Is not the Tao of heaven like the drawing of a bow? It brings down the part which is high; it raises the part which is low; it lessens the part which is redundant (convex); it fills up the part which is insufficient (concave). The Tao of heaven is to lessen the redundant and fill up the insufficient. The Tao of man, on the contrary, is to take from the insufficient and give to the redundant. Who can take from the redundant and give to the insufficient? Only he who has Tao can. Therefore the Sage does not horde. The more he helps others, the more he benefits himself the more he gives to others, the more he gets himself. The Tao of heaven does one good but never does one harm; the Tao of the Sage acts but never contends.



Flowing Hands 1987


The Dao of Heaven is like a bow,
when the string is pulled back, the high is lowered and low is raised.
The Dao of Heaven is to take from those who have far too much,
and give to those who do not have enough.
Man's way is different;
he takes from those who do not have enough,
and gives to those who already have far too much.
The Sage seeks nothing for himself. He works without recognition.
Yielding and giving without wanting anything in return.
He is at one with the Dao, so this comes naturally.
He does not dwell on things, he simply gets on with
the job, and achieves his end. 


  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

The Tao (way) of Heaven,

Is it not like the bending of a bow?
The top comes down and the bottom-end goes up,

The extra (length) is shortened,

the insufficient (width) is expanded.

It is the Way of Heaven to take away from those that have too much And give to those that have not enough.
Not so with man's way:
He takes away from those that have not

And gives it as tribute to those that have too much.

Who can have enough and to spare to give to the entire world?
Only the man of Tao.
Therefore the Sage acts, but does not possess,

Accomplishes but lays claim to no credit,

Because he has no wish to seem superior.


- Lin Yutang


Lin's interpretation is slightly different, but also refers to HeavenGovernance implications aside, the first section is deserving of some consideration.


In referring to Heaven, it might leave the impression that Heaven is operating independently from the rest of the world ... operating externally upon conditions of excess and deficiency. If emphasis is place upon the Way, then the question begs regarding the Way. Consider that the Way might be that of Change. Understanding the nature of Heaven as being the creative lends emphasis to the notion of Change. But still may not be a full understanding.


When Change is active, what conditions are likely to change and in what manner. Recall the lesson of Chapter 40 ... again from Lin:


Reversion is the action of Tao.
Gentleness is the function of Tao.

The things of this world come from Being,

And Being (comes) from Non-being.


So then, it might be said that within excess is the tendency toward giving up and be emptied and within deficiency the capacity to accept and be filled. In this way the action of Dao is inherent in all conditions. Heaven need take no action, it is already done.



  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

To me this is one about how the Divine can become more accessible and lift people up.


The second part is about the sage. Don’t horde your realization. Don’t just sit in a cave but go out and help others. Helping others helps the sage as well.


Another aspect of this is don’t help those who don’t need it, help those who do. It is much like the Jesus parable of the lost sheep.



Edited by Jonesboy
  • Like 2

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Verse Seventy Seven


In what way is the Trail Marker, and everything under the sky that follows it, like a bow? 

When a bow is shot,

Mister upper limb goes down,

Mister lower limb goes up.

The string goes tight, then loose.


The person who understands how this works can make use of it.


The Trail Marker, and everything under the sky that follows it,


Takes from one 

And gives to the other,


Eating the fruits 

While nourishing the roots.


This is not the path that most people follow,

They hoard and stockpile and play with markets;


Who can leave things in their natural state, 

Taking what they need

Distributing to where things are needed

And no more;


At this point, it takes the effort to follow the Trail Marker.


Someone should have told you by now, like my Grandmother told me,


The world doesn't owe you a thing.


Make yourself more competent

And more patient.


Don’t rely on what you perceive as your station or your due in life.


Work towards immediate and straightforward goals

And don’t concern yourself with honors or praise.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites