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The Tao Teh King: A Short Study in Comparative Religion, by C. Spurgeon Medhurst, [1905], at

p. 102


A great country is lowly. Everything under heaven blends with it. It is like the female, which at all times and in every place overcomes the male by her quietude. Than quietude there is nothing that is more lowly. Therefore a great state gains the smaller state by yielding; while the smaller state wins the greater by submission.. In the one case lowliness gains adherents, in the other it procures favors.

For a strong state there is no safer ambition than to desire to gather men and care for them; and for the weaker state there is nothing better than the ambition to become an indispensable servant. 1

p. 103

When each obtains what each desires the strongest should be the humblest.

A passage from "The Varieties of Religious Experience," by William James (p. 372) forms an excellent commentary on this section of Lao-tzu's writing—"Reënacted in human nature is the fable of the wind, the sun, and the traveler. The sexes embody the discrepancy. The woman loves the man the more admiringly the stormier he shows himself, and the world deifies its rulers the more for being wilful and unaccountable. But the woman in turn subjugates the man by the mystery of gentleness in beauty, and the saint has always charmed the world by something similar. Mankind is susceptible and suggestible in opposite directions, and the rivalry of influences is unsleeping."


102:1 Dr. Carus has the following note to this chapter: "States in a federative empire, such as was the Chinese empire in the days of Lao-Tsze, grow powerful when they serve the common interests of the whole nation. It would be as impossible for great rivers to flow in high mountains as for great states not to be subservient to the universal needs of the people. Streams become naturally great when they flow in the lowlands where they will receive all the other rivers as tributaries. The largest states are not always the greatest states. A state acquires and retains the leadership not by oppressing the other states, but by humbly serving them, by flowing lower than they. This truth has been preached by Christ when he said: 'Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.' An instance in the history of China that illustrates Lao-Tsze's doctrine, which at first sight appears as paradoxical as all his other teachings, is the ascendancy of the House of Cho, which under the humble but courageous Wu Wang succeeded the Shang dynasty, whose last emperor, Chow Sin (†1122 B.C.) received the posthumous title Show, the abandoned tyrant. Other instances in history are the rise of Athens in Greece and of Prussia in Germany. Athens’ ascendancy began when, in patriotic self-sacrifice, it served the cause of Greece, viz., of all the Greek states; and its decay sets in with the oppression of the Athenian confederates, i.e. when Athens ceased to serve and began to use the resources of the Ionian confederacy for its own home interests." Lao-Tsze's Tao-Teh-King, by Dr. Paul Carus, p. 313, 314.

Next: Chapter LXII