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Dao De Jing [Tao Te Ching]

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Chapter 66

Putting One's Self Last

Putting Oneself Behind / To Subordinate Self

  Original Legge's Translation Susuki's Translation Goddard's Translation

That whereby the rivers and seas are able to receive the homage and tribute of all the valley streams, is their skill in being lower than they;--it is thus that they are the kings of them all.

That rivers and oceans can of the hundred valleys be kings is due to their excelling in lowliness. Thus they can of the hundred valleys be the kings.
The reason rivers and seas are called the kings of the valley is because they keep below them.

So it is that the sage (ruler), wishing to be above men, puts himself by his
words below them, and, wishing to be before them, places his person behind them.

Therefore the holy man, when anxious to be above the people, must in his words keep underneath them. When anxious to lead the people, he must with his person keep behind them.

Therefore the wise man desiring to be above his people must in his demeanor keep below them; wishing to benefit his people, he must ever keep himself out of sight.


In this way though he has his place above them, men do not feel his weight, nor though he has his place before them, do they feel it an injury to them.

Therefore the holy man dwells above, but the people are not burdened. He is ahead, but the people suffer no harm.

The wise man dwells above, yet the people do not feel the burden; he is the leader and the people suffer no harm. Therefore the world rejoices to exalt him and never wearies of him.

4 Therefore all in the world delight to exalt him and do not weary of him. Because he does not strive, no one finds it possible to strive with him. Therefore the world rejoices in exalting him and does not tire. Because he strives not, no one in the world will strive with him. Because he will not quarrel with anyone, no one can quarrel with him.
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