Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
"True goodness is like water, in that it benefits everything and harms
Like water it ever seeks the lowest place, the place that all others avoid.
It is closely kin to the Dao.
For a dwelling it chooses the quiet meadow; for a heart the circling eddy.
In generosity it is kind,
In speech it is sincere,
In authority it is order,
In affairs it is ability,
In movement it is rhythm.
In as much as it is always peaceable it is never rebuked."
- Translated by Dwight Goddard
and Henri Borel, 1919,
"The greatest virtue is like water; it is good to all things.
It attains the most inaccessible places without strife.
Therefore it is like Tao.
It has the virtue of adapting itself to its place.
It is virtuous like the heart by being deep.
It is virtuous like speech be being faithful.
It is virtuous like government in regulating.
It is virtuous like a servant in its ability.
It is virtuous like action by being in season.
And because it does not strive it has no enemies."
- Translated by
Walter Gorn Old, 1904, Chapter 8
"The highest excellence is like that of water.
The excellence of water appears in its benefiting all things, and in its
Without striving to the contrary, the low place which all men dislike.
Hence its way is near to that of the Tao.
The excellence of a residence is in the suitability of the place;
That of the mind is in abysmal stillness;
That of associations is in their being with the virtuous;
That of government is in its securing good order;
That of the conduct of affairs is in its ability; and,
That of the initiation of any movement is in its timeliness.
And when one with the highest excellence does not wrangle about his low
No one finds fault with him."
- Translated by James Legge, 1891,
"The best are like water
bringing help to all
choosing what others avoid
hence approaching the Tao
dwelling with earth
thinking with depth
helping with kindness
speaking with truth
governing with peace
working with skill
moving with time
and because they don't compete
they aren't maligned."
- Translated by Bill
(Red Pine) Porter, 1996, Chapter 8
"One of universal nature is like water;
He benefits all things
But does not contend with them.
He unprotestingly takes the lowest position;
Thus, he is close to the universal truth.
One of universal virtue chooses to live
In a suitable environment.
He attunes his mind to become profound.
He deals with others with kindness.
In his speech, he is sincere.
His rule brings about order.
His work is efficient.
His actions are opportune.
One of deep virtue does not contend with people:
Thus, he is above reproach."
- Translated by Hua-Ching Ni, 1979,
Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices
Concordance and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching