Tao Te Ching
The reason why the River and the Sea are able to be king of the hundred valleys is that they excel in taking the lower position. Hence they are able to be king of the hundred valleys.
Therefore, desiring to rule over the people,
One must in one's words humble oneself before them;
And, desiring to lead the people,
One must, in one's person, follow behind them.
Therefore the sage takes his place over the people yet is no burden; takes his place ahead of the people yet causes no obstruction. That is why the empire supports him joyfully and never tires of doing so.
It is because he does not contend that no one in the empire is in a position to contend with him.
The whole world says that my way is vast and resembles nothing. It is because it is vast that it resembles nothing. If it resembled anything, it would, long before now, have become small.
I have three treasures
Which I hold and cherish.
The first is known as compassion,
The second is known as frugality,
The third is known as not daring to take the lead in the empire;
Being compassionate one could afford to be courageous,
Being frugal one could afford to extend one's territory,
Not daring to take the lead in the empire one could afford to be lord over the vessels.
Now, to forsake compassion for courage, to forsake frugality for expansion, to forsake the rear for the lead, is sure to end in death.
Through compassion, one will triumph in attack and be impregnable in defense. What heaven succors it protects with the gift of compassion.
One who excels as a warrior does not appear formidable;
One who excels in fighting is never roused in anger;
One who excels in defeating his enemy does not join issue;
One who excels in employing others humbles himself before them.
This is known as the virtue of non-contention;
This is known as making use of the efforts of others;
This is known as matching the sublimity of heaven.
The strategists have a saying,
I dare not play the host but play the guest,
I dare not advance an inch but retreat a foot instead.
This is known as marching forward when there is no road,
Rolling up one's sleeves when there is no arm,
Dragging one's adversary by force when there is no adversary,
And taking up arms when there are no arms.
There is no disaster greater than taking on an enemy too easily. So doing nearly cost me my treasure. Thus of two sides raising arms against each other, it is the one that is sorrow-stricken that wins.
My words are very easy to understand and very easy to put into practice, yet no one in the world can understand them or put them into practice. Words have an ancestor and affairs have a sovereign.
It is because people are ignorant that they fail to understand me.
Those who understand me are few;
Those who imitate me are honored.
Therefore the sage, while clad in homespun, conceals on his person a priceless piece of jade.
...Excerpt from the Tao Te Ching
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Daily Words of Wisdom
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