All things arise from Tao.
They are nourished by Virtue (Te).
They are formed from matter.
They are shaped by environment.
Thus all things respect Tao and honor Virtue (Te).
Respect of Tao and honor of Virtue (Te) are not demanded,
But it is natural to do so.
Therefore all things arise from Tao.
By Te they are nourished,
Developed, cared for,
Grown, and protected.
Creating without claiming,
Doing without taking credit,
Guiding without interfering,
This is Primal Virtue.
(Translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English)
The Tao Te Ching consists of Tao and Te. They are equally important. Tao generates all things while Te nourishes them, even though all things have various shapes and the environment help them grow. Both Tao and Te are respected and honored by them. Why? Though Tao generates all things it never interferes, and Te nourishes all things, it never dominates, letting them grow naturally. Tao begets them and does not take their possessions, while Te sustains them but does not bear the credits. Guiding them without dominating them, this is called the profound Te.