|1.||A mighty kingdom stays downstream,|
|2.||Female of this world below,|
|3.||Where all courses intersect.|
|4.||Dam holding still has ever conquered sire.|
|5.||But to hold herself still|
|6.||She must remain below.|
|7.||By lying below a small kingdom|
|8.||A great one takes it over.|
|9.||By lying below a great kingdom|
|10.||A small state is taken over.|
|11.||By moving lower the greater takes over.|
|12.||Lying low the smaller is taken over.|
|13.||A great kingdom seeks no more|
|14.||Than to absorb and protect.|
|15.||A small state no more than to enter its service.|
|16.||Thus for both to fulfill their desire|
|17.||Lower must the greater lie.|
COMMENT The water imagery in this stanza evokes the closing lines of stanza 32, “The Way's a presence in the realm of men, / As valley streams join rivers, then the ocean, ” and also relates to the neighboring antiwar stanzas, 30 and 31. Stanza 60 addresses internal policy; this one, external affairs. The two stanzas seem to form a set. Neither is found in the Guodian text.
In this stanza Laozi urges great rulers to find a benign balance in relation to unequals, both stronger and weaker, rather than pursue a course of conquest. Gu Li argues that such a position reflects the late Spring and Autumn political context rather than a middle or late Warring States context. The stanza fits into a world of hege
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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: 153.
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