Heaven and earth are impartial;

they see the universe as a straw dog.

The sage is non-judgmental;

he treats all his people as straw dogs.

The sage is like heaven and earth:

To him none are especially dear,

nor is there anyone he disfavors.

He gives and gives, without condition,

offering his treasures to everyone.

 Between heaven and earth

is a space like void;

empty and inexhaustible,

the more it is used, the more it produces.

 Hold on to the center.

Man was made to sit quietly and find

the truth within.


The fifth chapter of the Tao Te Ching is broken into four parts. The main theme throughout this verse is the Tao does not discriminate and neither should you. As in verse four Lao-tzu describes the Tao as continuously giving without asking for anything in return, we need to live or lives the same.

The first nine lines tells us that the Tao gives without discrimination. The Way does not care what your social status, wealth, or career is the Way gives equally across the board. The heaven and earth treat the universe as a straw dog, just as the sage treats all men as straw dogs. The Tao is the great invisible provider of air, water, sunlight, life and death. The varied forms of life are illusory as far as the Tao is concerned; no one is special or better than someone else. The Tao will give equally to all its creatures, the Tao is unsentimental. When I reflect on this I am reminded of a passage from Matthew 5:45 “God sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

The enlightened man is no more special than the unenlightened one; the Tao sees them as equals. The minute the enlightened man sees himself as enlightened is when he loses all understanding. By unconditionally sharing, giving, and living without prejudices is how we are able to find the Way. The Tao resides in and around us; the Tao is the ultimate truth. Quietly be in peace and joy when connecting with the Tao.

The third section returns to the universe, describing the void. The universe like the Tao shows no favorites it just is. The universe provides life when life needs to be provided. It shows no favoritism nor does it regard one star system as more important than the other. It brings life just as easily as it takes it, and so it goes. The universe consistently gives and grows giving and taking life. Connect with the inner space that is the great Tao, in this space become unbiased with your possessions. These possessions are not exclusively yours; they belong to the entirety.

 The final section urges us to stay centered at all times. Eliminate judgments by seeing yourself in everyone around you. Lao-tzu reminds us to sit quietly and listen without waiting to give your answer. Listening and staying centered allow us to find the truth within ourselves and others.

 Practice being impartial today. Approach all situations with a non-biased and in a fair-minded frame of mind. Let criticism and labels dissolve. Appearances or wealth are only straw dogs, and should be looked at as such. Trust this thinking to guide your responses. If you begin to lose site of this thinking, start to use a positive mantra such as “I am listening with a non-judgmental open mind, trust the Tao.” Allow the feeling of relaxation and oneness to run through you impartially. If the sage, universe, heaven and earth, and the Tao see everything as straw dogs, then so shall we.

  1. I really, really liked this sentence in your analysis: “Eliminate judgments by seeing yourself in everyone around you.”

    BTW, which translation are you using for your series? When I wrote my series on the TTC, I used a variety of different ones as each of them translates the text in different — thought usually not disparate — ways.

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      I am reading five different translations. I feel the different translations bring me closer to the Way. I love writing about this and I dont know what I will do once I write about all 81 verses.

  2. I understand. I felt the same way when I got to verse 81 in the series on my blog. However, there are so many more good ancient Taoist texts: Hua Hu Ching, Wen Tzu, Chuang Tzu & Lieh Tzu. My next assignment is to tackle the Chuang Tzu, a book that spans over 300 pages.

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