Higher good is like water:
the good in water benefits all,
and does so without contention.
It rests where people dislike to be,
so it is close to the Way.
Where it dwells becomes good ground;
profound is the good in its heart,
benevolent the good it bestows.
Goodness in words is trustworthiness,
goodness in government is order;
goodness in work is ability,
goodness in action is timeliness.
But only by noncontention
is there nothing extreme.

– Thomas Cleary

 

The best things are like water
bringing help to all
without competing
choosing what others avoid
they thus approach the Tao
dwelling with earth
thinking with depth
helping with kindness
speaking with honesty
governing with peace
working with skill
and moving with time
and because they don’t compete
they aren’t maligned

– Red Pine

 

Perfect mastery works like water:
A boon to every living creature,
In adverse relation never;
At home where most can not abide,
Closest to the Way it lies.
For position, favor lower ground;
For thought, profundity;
For engaging, gentility;
For speaking, credibility;
For ruling, authority;
For service, capability;
For action, suitability;
Avoiding confrontation
Eliminates accusation.
There is no other way.

– Moss Roberts

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5 thoughts on “Tao Te Ching #8: “Higher good is like water”

  1. Some of the best passages from the TTC are about water, flowing downward, taking the shape (but ultimately influencing the shape) of the course that’s already there

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