Tao Te Ching: Verse 8

Tao Te Ching: Verse 8

What meaning does this verse hold for you?

This post is the first in a series of extracts from the Tao Te Ching.

Each post will present two translations of the same verse. Over time, translations will be drawn from a range of different publications.

The suggestion offered here, is not to focus on what is meant by the verse, but to listen to what is resonating in our hearts as we recite the words out loud.

‘Tao Te Ching; – the definitive edition’.

Jonathan Star, 2001.


The best way to live

   is to be like water.

For water benefits all things

   and goes against none of them.

It provides for all people

   and even cleanses those places a man is loath to go.

In this way it is just like the Tao.

Live in accordance with the nature of things:

Build your house on solid ground;

Keep your mind still;

When giving, be kind;

When speaking, be truthful;

When ruling, be just;

When working; be one-pointed;

When acting, remember – timing is everything.

They who live in accordance with nature

   do not go against the way of things.

They move in harmony with the present moment

   always knowing the truth of just what to do.


‘Tao Te Ching’

Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English, 1973


The highest good is like water.

Water gives life to the ten thousand things,

   and does not strive.

It flows in places men reject and so it like the Tao.

In dwelling, be close to the land.

In meditation, go deep in the heart.

In dealing with others, be gentle and kind.

In speech, be true.

In ruling, be just.

In business, be competent.

In action, watch the timing.

No fight: No blame.