Chapter 77 The way of heaven

天之道,其猶張弓與?高者抑之,下者舉之;有餘者損之,不足者補之。天之道,損有餘而補不足。人之道,則不然,損不足以奉有餘。孰能有餘以奉天下,唯有道者。是以聖人為而不恃,功成而不處,其不欲見賢。

1. May not the Way (or Dao) of Heaven be compared to the (method of) bending a bow? The (part of the bow) which was high is brought low, and what was low is raised up. (So Heaven) diminishes where there is superabundance, and supplements where there is deficiency.

2. It is the Way of Heaven to diminish superabundance, and to supplement deficiency. It is not so with the way of man. He takes away from those who have not enough to add to his own superabundance.

3. Who can take his own superabundance and therewith serve all under heaven? Only he who is in possession of the Tao!

4. Therefore the (ruling) sage acts without claiming the results as his; he achieves his merit and does not rest (arrogantly) in it: — he does not wish to display his superiority.

Derek Lin

The Tao of Heaven
Is like drawing a bow
Lower that which is high
Raise that which is low
Reduce that which has excess
Add to that which is lacking

The Tao of heaven
Reduces the excessive
And adds to the lacking

The Tao of people is not so
It reduces the lacking
In order to offer to the excessive

Who can offer their excess to the world?
Only those who have the Tao
Therefore sages act without conceit
Achieve without claiming credit
They do not wish to display their virtue!

Peter Merel

Is the action of nature not unlike drawing a bow?
What is higher is pulled down, and what is lower is raised up;
What is taller is shortened, and what is thinner is broadened;
Nature’s motion decreases those who have more than they need
And increases those who need more than they have.
It is not so with Man.
Man decreases those who need more than they have
And increases those who have more than they need.
To give away what you do not need is to follow the Way.
So the sage gives without expectation,
Accomplishes without claiming credit,
And has no desire for ostentation.