Saturdao 12

Dao De Jing, verse 8a

16 translations.

1. James Legge:
The highest excellence is like (that of) water.
The excellence of water appears in its benefiting all things,
and in its occupying, without striving (to the contrary), the low place which all men
dislike. Hence (its way) is near to (that of) the Tao.
2. Archie Bahm:
The best way to conduct oneself may be observed in the behavior of water.
Water is useful to every living thing, yet it does not demand pay in return for its services; it does not even require that it be recognized, esteemed, or appreciated for its benefits.
This illustrates how intelligent behavior so closely approximates the behavior of Nature itself.
3. Frank MacHovec:
The highest motive is to be like water:
water is essential to all life, yet it does not demand a fee or proclaim its importance.
Rather, it flows humbly to the lowest level, and in so doing it is much like Tao.
4. D.C. Lau:
Highest good is like water.
Because water excels at benefitting the myriad creatures
without contending with them
and settles where none would like to be,
it comes close to the way.
5. Gia-Fu Feng:
The highest good is like water.
Water gives life to the ten thousand things and does not strive.
It flows in places men reject and so is like the Tao.
6. Stan Rosenthal:
Great good is said to be like water,
sustaining life with no conscious striving,
flowing naturally, providing nourishment,
found even in places which desiring man rejects.
In this way it is like the Tao itself.
7. Jacob Trapp:
“Like Water”
The Sage is like water:
He serves by what he is,
He helps as he goes along.
Dwelling in lowly places,
Seeking the common level
Which the proud distain,
He is near to Tao.
8. Stephen Mitchell:
The supreme good is like water,
which nourishes all things without trying to.
It is content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Tao.
9. Victor Mair:
The highest good is like water;
Water is good at benefiting the myriad creatures
but also struggles
to occupy the place loathed by the masses.
Therefore, It is near to the Way.
10. Michael LaFargue:
The highest Excellence is like water.
Water, Excellent at being of benefit
to the thousands of things,
does not contend –
it settles in places everyone else avoids.
Yes, it just about Tao.
11. Peter Merel:
The best of man is like water,
Which benefits all things, and does not contend with them,
Which flows in places that others disdain,
Where it is in harmony with the Way.
12. Ursula LeGuin:
“Easy by nature”
True goodness
is like water.
Water's good
for everything.
It doesn't compete.
It goes right to the low loathsome places,
and so finds the way.
13. Ron Hogan:
"Doing the right thing" is like water.
It’s good for all living things and flows without thinking
about where it's going
...just like Tao.
14. Ames and Hall:
The highest efficacy is like water.
It is because water benefits everything (wanwu)
Yet vies to dwell in places loathed by the crowd
That it comes nearest to proper way-making.
15. Yasuhiko Genku Kimura:
The highest good is like water.
Benefitting all but contending with none.
Flowing in low places which the masses disdain.
Hence it is close to the goodness of the Tao.
16. Addiss and Lombardo:
Best to be like water,
Which benefits the ten thousand things
And does not contend.
It pools where humans disdain to dwell,
Close to the Tao.
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See: Saturdao Index