There are certain invariant rules governing human actions. If you charge blindly, without knowing what you are getting into, things tend to go badly. On the other hand, if you look before you leap, and think things through ahead of time, you are likely to reap great rewards.
Why is it that Heaven seems to favor the thoughtful over the thoughtless? Even the sages have a hard time figuring this out!
What is the Tao of Heaven? We can see that it does not contend against anyone, but it always wins in the end. It does not say anything, but it responds to everything you do. It doesn’t need to be summoned, because it is always present — everywhere. It is never in a rush, but its plans bear fruit sooner or later.
The Tao of Heaven is like a heavenly net that covers everything and everyone. This net is loose, so people may not even realize it’s there. Despite the looseness, nothing slips past this vast net. Whether the consequence is positive or negative, this net ensures you reap what you sow. This is the simple reason why bad planning leads to bad results, and good planning leads to good results.
The audio recordings below are provided for your convenience. Please note that they are extracted from YouTube videos, with visual elements that cannot always be clearly conveyed through words alone.
The first half of this chapter seems to be troublesome for some translators. One popular book skips the first six lines completely. It starts chapter 73 with a line about how the Tao “overcomes without competing” — immediately recognizable as a poor rendering of line 7.
This cuts out the entire section above, about the difference between acting thoughtfully and lashing out thoughtlessly. Most readers do not have a way to tell they’ve been shortchanged by this omission.