A big country may be compared to the lower part of a river.
It is the converging part of the world.
It is the female of the world.
The female always overcomes the male by tranquility,
And by tranquility she is underneath.
A big state can take over a small state if it places itself below the small state.
And a small state can take over a big state if it places itself below the big state.
Thus some, by placing themselves below, take over (others),
And some, by being (naturally) low, take over (other states).
After all what a big state wants is but to annex and herd others.
And what a small state wants is merely to join and serve others.
Since both big and small states get what they want,
The big state should place itself low.
As I Understand It:
What constitutes strength–humility, passivity and staying low or aggression and staying at the top? Lao Tzu regarded lowlands, ravines, and oceans as feminine because they remain low. Streams and rivers, without fail, are drawn to the great oceans because they are open and accessible.
When critical mass of individuals lessens the ego-dominated thinking they usher in peace and harmony. But those who desire to tower over others don’t see value in receptivity and stillness. Obsessed with positions of power they resort to brutality to get it, eventually incurring violence on themselves. Those who stay low, are in the feminine mode. They radiate energy and strength.
Individuals with highest spiritual persuasion demonstrate that it is not the power of force but the stillness and receptivity that inspire love and harmony. Quiet and still of the world ultimately overcome powerful and strong.
Stay low and others will stream down to you.
Dyer, W. Wayne. Change Your Thought–Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao. Hay House, Inc. 2007.
The Way of Lao Tzu (Tao-te Ching), Translated, with introductory essays, comments, and notes by Chan, Wing-Tsit. The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. 1963.