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"The high is lowered and the low is raised."

Tao Te Ching - Chapter 77

Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu.

The Taoist Classic by Lao Tzu
Translated and Explained


77

Heaven's Way is like stretching a bow.

The high is lowered and the low is raised.

Excess is reduced and deficiency is replenished.


Heaven's Way reduces excess and replenishes deficiency.

People's Way is not so.

They reduce the deficient and supply the excessive.

Who has excess and supplies the world?

Only the one who follows the Way.


Therefore, the sage acts without taking credit.

He accomplishes without dwelling on it.

He does not want to display his worth.



Raise the Low

Here, Lao Tzu again uses the expression Heaven's Way as if it's synonymous with Tao, the Way. It's a bit strange that he would do so, considering his otherwise consistent perspective on Tao preceding everything, including Heaven. To Lao Tzu, Tao is superior to all. Accordingly, Heaven's Way must be something lesser and later than the Way itself. I discuss this at chapter 73, where it also appears.

       Anyway, what this chapter speaks of is hardly dependent on the definition of Heaven's Way.

       Lao Tzu points out that the natural order of things is that excess should be reduced and deficiency should be replenished.

       That's what water does by itself, and we are told that water behaves like Tao. It moves downwards, striving to balance high and low to a perfect middle.

       Our society is certainly different. That's just as true today as it was in ancient China. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Wealth tends to move from those who don't have enough to those who have more than enough. It's true on the individual level, as well as for nations. Also, there are big differences of wealth between whole continents.

       It's a tragedy that seems to have no end.

       The sage refuses to participate in this deplorable process. Not only does he avoid getting what he doesn't need, but he also escapes being praised above others, although he might deserve it. He completes his tasks without expecting any reward. When he is done he just moves on.

       Otherwise, society would surely hurry to make him one of the privileged, and cover him with gold.

       Some have to struggle not to get more than they need, others don't get what they need no matter how they struggle. What's really needed, is that those who have more than they need give it to all those in the world who need it. Unfortunately, that's a struggle that few of the wealthy are willing to undertake.

© Stefan Stenudd.

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Tao Te Ching Explained


Preface


Introduction


Literature


The 81 Chapters of Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
translated and explained by Stefan Stenudd.
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Tao Te Ching Explained


James Legge's Tao Te Ching


Aleister Crowley's Tao Te Ching


The 1st Chapter of Tao Te Ching in 76 Versions


Lao Tzu - Legendary Author of Tao Te Ching





My Taoism Books:


Tao Te Ching - The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Tao Te Ching

The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. The great Taoist philosophy classic by Lao Tzu translated, and each of the 81 chapters extensively commented. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

       More about the book here.


Tao Quotes - the Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Tao Quotes

The Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. 389 quotes from the foremost Taoist classic, divided into 51 prominent topics. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

       More about the book here.



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Other Books by Stefan Stenudd:


Cosmos of the Ancients. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Cosmos of the Ancients

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Stefan Stenudd, Swedish author of fiction and non-fiction. Stefan Stenudd


About me

I'm a Swedish author and aikido instructor. In addition to fiction, I've written books about Taoism and other East Asian traditions. I'm also an historian of ideas, researching ancient thought and mythology. Click the image to get to my personal website.

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