Daodejing 8


The highest good is like water:

Water is good at
benefitting the
10,000 things yet
never contends.

Dwell in the place
that the majority
dislikes; thus, be close
To Dào .

Be good at dwelling in place;
Be good at deepening heart.
Be good at benevolent conduct.
Be good at sincere words.
Be good at ordering politics.
Be good at effective deeds.
Be good at timely action.

Simply never contending,
Thus never making mistakes.

*Translation by LU Wenlong & Keith Wayne Brown, ©2013.


      1. Thanks, Simon! While we talk about Laozi, Wenlong and I are under no illusion that the “Old Man” actually ever existed. Part of that comes out in not trying to force the poems to have the same “voice” or style. The verses differ. There will be some that seem to have the same format, and then an amount of them that differ each from the next. The only thing we consulted on sticking with is keeping a kind of pentameter for the lines–mostly. That is not in the original per se, but often the lines are three to seven characters long. The translation of the lines into English can be quite long, of course. I appreciate your close readings of the text, and any suggestions, please share.

        Namaste _/|\_ 🙂

      2. I think it adds to the enjoyment and memorability of the text if they vary in flavours and styles, whilst keeping to a judicious translation, of course! (
        (There seem to be a godawful amount of unrecognisible and dismal paraphrases on FB at the moment).
        And I expect that the Old Man is also quite sure he doesn’t exist as well!…..

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