|1.||The heavens last, the earth endures.|
|2.||And the reason why they do?|
|3.||By disowning what they yield,|
|4.||Heaven can last and earth endure.|
|5.||So, surely, does the world-wise lord,|
|6.||Who puts his interest far behind|
|7.||And ends up in the lead,|
|8.||Who puts his interest to the side|
|9.||And ends up safe and whole.|
|10.||Is it not so:|
|11.||That having nothing to own|
|12.||He can achieve his goal?|
COMMENT Heaven and earth disown, that is, take no personal interest in, what they create; they give life universally and impartially. The ten thousand created things (wu) come and go, but heaven and earth have no temporal limit. Ancestors, by contrast, produce only a single lineage but invest great interest in it, since their own limited existence is continued through subsequent generations.
An impartial, universal heaven, above and apart from the human order, was first constructed by the Mohists. They created the idea of a heaven free of ancestral domination to support a state policy that gave no preference to nobility of birth in awarding honors and offices, thus making it possible to recruit experts from the lower ranks of society. Laozi, like Mozi, seeks to separate the world of human beings and heaven but unlike Mozi tries to limit, not augment, human beings' power over nature and other humans.
Laozi's “world-wise lord” has learned the lesson of heaven and