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Lao Tzu for Everyone

Students, Scholars

& Seekers

Peter Gilboy, Ph.D.

Line 1  上善如水

Line 2  水善利萬物而不 爭

Line 3  居眾人之所惡


Line 4  居善地 心善淵

          予善天  言 善 信  

​​Line 5  正善治 事善能


Line 6   夫唯不爭  故無尤




Living the way

that water lives



​    At first this lesson appears to be about water. But again it is about the sage and wu wei; and potentially about each of us.

     Lao Tzu is inviting us to observe the water around us, the way it works in the lake, the ocean, even the sink; to ponder it and consider water’s way. Then we will better understand the operation of the Way and the parallel operation that is available to us.

Click on each line number


for Chinese-English interlinear & commentary


The highest virtue

is like water.


Water benefits everything

and does not

contend with them.



It dwells in places

that the masses reject.

Therefore it is close to the Way.





In dwelling, value the earth.

In thought, value the profound.

In giving, value heaven.

In speaking, value truth.




In governing, value order.

In duties, value ability.

In action, value the right moment.






Now, it is only

by not contending

that you will

be free from error.


​​​​​​​​​. . . . . . .




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