Home Discussion Forum How should I interpret the following saying from the Lao Tzu? ?

How should I interpret the following saying from the Lao Tzu? ?

“The best (man) is like water. Water is good; it benfits all things and does not compete ith them. It dwells in (lowly) places that all disdain. This is why it is so near to the Tao. [The best man] in his dwelling loves the eart. In his heart, he loves what is profound. In his associations, he loves humanity. In his words, he loves faithfulness. In government, he loves order. In handling affairs, he loves competence. In his activities, he loves timeliness. It is because he does not competethat he is without reproach.”


  1. same as most civilized societies insist upon. no, that is not what i would consider a profound observation, even centuries ago. commonsense for even an average chimp.

  2. I interpret it as that the best man is humble, knows what is right and good, and he does not try to stop what is right and good for his own benefit.

  3. I think water is like an egoless person who flows smoothly like water and does not battle anything or force his ego apon anything. Thus such people are egoless and blameless whereis people who force their personalities apon others (Christians for example) tend to be against society and against order. The most orderly society is where you do not force your personality and values apon others. My lame interpretation.

  4. Not so good definition :
    Islam define it more like this:
    Good man shall be like a big tree, its roots are strong and deep, strong, many branch, provide good fruits and shade.

  5. We let the tao lead us. The more we struggle to understand the tao the further away we stray from it. Man is like his own destiny coming from the lowest depth only to rise above. Though water sinks down into the ground beauty and greatness grow from where it rests. We as people though we struggle in life if we love our world even when it is brutal and hard and rough and we flow like water the way water always has we eventually find a destination.


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