上善若水 – Chinese philosophy and culture

shànɡshànruòshuǐ上善若水

Great Virtue Is Like Water.

最完美的善就像水的品性一样,滋润万物却不与万物相争。出自《老子》,老子以水的这种柔弱之性比喻至善的执政者应有的品德。执政者面对百姓,应如水之于万物,辅助、成就百姓的自然而不与百姓相争。后多指为人处世时能像水一样滋润万物,尽己所能帮助他人却从不争名逐利,或者具有坚忍负重、谦卑居下的品格。

The greatest virtue is just like water, nurturing all things without competing with them. This term was first used by Laozi to advocate the belief that a virtuous ruler should govern with gentle and accommodating qualities as demonstrated by water. He should assist and provide for people just like what the water does, instead of competing with them for resources. Later, this term came to mean that people should nourish all things as water does and try their best to help people without seeking fame or profit. It also refers to human virtues such as endurance for the sake of achieving a noble goal and modesty.

引例 Citation:

◎上善若水。水善利万物而不争,处众人之所恶,故几于道。(《老子·八章》)

(至善之人具有如水一般的品德。水善于滋润万物而不与万物相争,处于众人所厌恶的卑下之处,因此水几近于道。)

Great virtue is like water. Water nourishes all things gently and does not compete with anything, content to be in a low place not sought by people. Water is therefore closest to Dao. (Laozi)

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