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The Tao Teh King: A Short Study in Comparative Religion, by C. Spurgeon Medhurst, [1905], at

p. 126


The Divine Way is like the drawing of a bow,—it brings down the high and exalts the low. 1 Where there is superfluity it takes away, where there is deficiency it imparts. It is the way of heaven to diminish abundance, and supplement deficiency. 2

The way of man is not so. He depletes the deficient, that he may supplement the superfluous.

Who is able to have a superabundance for the service of the world? Only the possessor of the Tao! Hence the Holy Man acts without priding himself on his actions, completes his work without lingering on it;—he has no desire to display his superiority. 3

Man grasps all; God gives all. Man makes himself great; God is content to be small. Man loves to surpass others; God strives that all may be one. A Chinese commentator suggests that Heaven, because universal, equalizes, but that man, because exceedingly parochial, differentiates.


126:1 So Prof. Giles renders this sentence in his Remains of Lao-Tzu; he adds an explanatory note—"When the bow held vertically (as the Chinese hold it) is drawn, the upper nock is brought down while the lower nock is brought up."

126:2 Dr. Carus remarks on this passage that "while the first sentence is almost literally like Christ's doctrine, 'whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased,' the second sentence is the reverse of the New Testament teaching that, 'Whoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath.' Matt. xiii, 12." The difference is, however, only verbal. Christ and Lao-Tzu both teach that the Divine Way is equality, equilibrium, and that whatever contravenes this is wrong. Cf. Luke iii, 4-6.

126:3 Cf. chap. 2. Says Huai-nan-tzu: "He does not depend on the respect of others for his power, nor upon possession for his wealth, nor upon brute force for his strength; but is able to soar between the firmament above and the waters below, in company with his creator."—Taoist Texts by Balfour, p. 92.

"The divine Way," "The Way of Heaven" is in the Chinese "The Tao of Heaven." So also "The way of man" in the text is in the original "The Tao of Man."

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