The Tao Teh King: A Short Study in Comparative Religion, by C. Spurgeon Medhurst, , at sacred-texts.com
The highest goodness resembles water. Water greatly benefits all things, but does not assert itself.
He approximates to the Tao, who abides by that which men despise.
He revolutionizes the place in which he dwells; his depth is immeasurable; he strengthens moral qualities by what he bestows; he augments sincerity by what he says; he evokes peace by his administration; his transactions manifest ability; he is opportune in all his movements.
Forasmuch as he does not assert himself he is free from blame. 1
14:1 There is a correspondence between early Chinese thought and the beginning of Greek philosophy. Thales, born only some thirty odd years before Lao-tzu, and who, like him, was a seeker after Wisdom, is said to have "maintained water to be the ground of all things," but while Thales appears to have confined his philosophy to the conclusions that as it is water or moisture which keeps the world alive, so there is in man and in all things a living power which prevents them becoming mere heaps of dead atoms. Lao-tzu goes further and draws from the non-assertion of water the inference that the highest goodness, that which alone can transform the world, must, like water, be born of that Power which is the child of Purity—the purity of selflessness.
Lao-tzu's teaching is expanded with great force and beauty in a later Taoist treatise—"History of the Great Light." (v. Taoist Texts, by Balfour, pp. 84-85.)