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How did the great rivers and seas become the Lords

of the ravines?

By being good at keeping low.

That was how they became Lords of the Ravines.

Therefore in order to be the chief among the people,

One must speak like their inferiors.

In order to be foremost among the people,

One must walk behind them.

Thus it is that the Sage stays above,

And the people do not feel his weight;

Walks in front,

And the people do not wish him harm.

Then the people of the world are glad to uphold him forever.

Because he does not contend,

No one in the world can contend against him.

江海所以能为百谷王者,以其善下之,故能为百谷王。是以圣人欲上民,必以言下之;欲先民,必以身后之。是以圣人居上而民不重,居前而民不害。是以天下乐推而不厌。以其不争,故天下莫能与之争。

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