|1.||The Way moves like the turning tide,|
|2.||Leftward, rightward, lending its aid.|
|3.||Ten thousand on the Way depend;|
|4.||By it they live; the Way, never shirking, 1|
|5.||Attains success, fulfills its tasks,|
|6.||Without its ever being named.|
|7.||Under its mantle all beings thrive;|
|8.||But ruling them not, nor desiring aught,|
|9.||The Way wins the name of humble and low.|
|10.||All beings bend to that home of no known master,|
|11.||And thus the Way wins the name supreme.|
|12.||And so may the wise achieve this themselves:|
|13.||To shun self-supremacy all of their days|
|14.||Is the way they achieve things supreme.|
COMMENT This stanza uses the tidal motion of water (fan) to express the endless reversals (fan) of the Way as described in stanza 40: “The Way moves on by contra-motion. ” The phrase for its alternating movement “leftward, rightward” (zuoyou) also commonly refers to the ministers assisting or guiding the ruler. Since the Laozi never mentions the ruler-minister (jun-chen) relation, the implication is that the Way, either as a model or else as mediated through the sage, will guide (zuoyou) the ruler through the tortuous reversals of history.
The Way never seeks to dominate its offspring. This is why the Way has a humble name. But ultimately all things return home (gui) to the Way, and thus its name is magnified. The Way functions parentally but rejects ancestral adulation through naming and rites of gratitude.