Chapter 7-9

Part 3: Perfection

September 26, 2021

Chapter 7: The Impartial Spectator

1 The Tao thus creates Heaven and earth to last eternally for the sake of the Tao or True Nature, and not for the tao or Mother Nature.

2 Therefore, the knower of the Tao puts his own person last position, yet will be in the foremost position. He treats his self as if it were another self* in order to realize his Tao or True Nature. This allows his self to be impartial and avoid personal and private ends. This then allows him to realize those ends.

*Translator’s Note= This is the impartial spectator technique mentioned by Adam Smith in the Theory of Moral Sentiments.

Chapter 8: Excellence is nearness to one’s Tao or True Nature

1 This impartiality is like that of water. Water is impartial by:

  • benefitting all things,
  • occupying the low place which all men dislike, without striving

Hence, the impartiality of water is near to the impartiality of the Tao or True Nature.


  • The excellence of a house, or its nearness to the Tao, is in its good location.
  • The excellence of the mind, or its nearness to the Tao, is in its abysmal stillness.
  • The excellence of human relationships, or its nearness to the Tao, is in people being with the virtuous
  • The excellence of government, or its nearness to the Tao, is in its securing good order
  • The excellence of human affairs, or its nearness to the Tao, is in its ability
  • The excellence of any movement, or its nearness to the Tao, is in its timing

3 We do not find fault with a person who is acting in his own excellence, no matter how low his position may be.

Chapter 9= Excellence is Prevented by Fetters

1 It is better to leave a vessel unfilled, than to attempt to carry it when it is full. If you keep feeling a point that has been sharpened, the point cannot long preserve its sharpness.

2 When gold and jade fill the hall, their possessor cannot keep them safe. When wealth and honours lead to arrogancy, this brings its evil on itself. When the work is done, and one’s name is becoming distinguished, to withdraw into obscurity is the way of Heaven.