|1.||Perfect mastery works like water:|
|2.||A boon to every living creature,|
|3.||In adverse relation never;|
|4.||At home where most can not abide,|
|5.||Closest to the Way it lies.|
|6.||For position, favor lower ground;|
|7.||For thought, profundity;|
|8.||For engaging, gentility;|
|9.||For speaking, credibility;|
|10.||For ruling, authority;|
|11.||For service, capability;|
|12.||For action, suitability.|
|15.||There is no other way.|
COMMENT Like heaven and earth, water has no selfinterest and thus flows downward to the lowest point to serve the interests of other things without confronting or contending with them. Water “goes where others will not go, does what others will not do, in the spirit of a beast of burden, like the camel, who bears the weight and tolerates abuse. ” 1 This passage may be a reaction to Analects 19.20, in which Confucius's wealthy disciple Zi gong says, “The true prince cannot bear to be downstream where the ills and evils of the world converge. ” By contrast Laozi says that “He who for the kingdom's sake bears shame; / Earns the name—master of the shrine” (stanza 78). Water is adaptable but unchanging, always itself, unitary; it does not become its opposite, though it may alter all it touches. Thus water is an apt and recurring metaphor for Dao.
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Publication information: Book title: Dao de Jing: The Book of the Way. Contributors: Laozi - Author, Moss Roberts - Translator. Publisher: University of California Press. Place of publication: Berkeley, CA. Publication year: 2001. Page number: 45.
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