Tao Te Ching #34: “Therefore sages never contrive greatness; that is why they can become so great.”

The Great Way is universal;
it can apply to the left or the right.
All beings depend on it for life,
and it does not refuse.
Its accomplishments fulfilled,
it does not dwell on them.
It lovingly nurtures all beings,
but does not act as their ruler.
As it has no desire, it can be called small.
As all beings take to it,
yet it does not act as their ruler,
it can be called great.
Therefore sages never contrive greatness;
that is why they can become so great.

– Thomas Cleary


The Tao drifts
it can go left or right
everything lives by its grace
but it doesn’t speak
when its work succeeds
it makes no claim
it has no desires
shall we call it small
everything turns to it
but it wields no control
shall we call it great
it’s because sages never act great
they can thus achieve great things

– Red Pine


The Way moves like the turning tide,
Leftward, rightward, lending its aid.
Ten thousand on the Way depend;
By it they live; the Way, never shirking.
Attains success, fulfills its tasks,
Without its ever being named.
Under its mantle all being thrive;
But ruling them not, nor desiring aught,
The Way wins the name of humble and low.
All beings bend to that home of no known master,
And thus the Way wins the name supreme.
And so may the wise achieve this themselves:
To shun self-supremacy all of their days
Is the way they achieve things supreme.

– Moss Roberts