Daodejing quotes on selflessness

In the Daodejing, selflessness is seen as an essential quality for a sage. Here is a collection of the most popular quotations on the subject of selflessness from the text.

天長地久,天地所以長且久者,以其不自生,故能長生。是以聖人後其身而身先,外其身而身存。非以其無私耶!故能成其私。
Heaven is infinite and earth is eternal;
The reason why they last so long is because they do not exist for themselves;
Thus, they can continue to endure.
That is why the sage:
Places himself at the back, but finds himself at the front;
Places himself on the outside, but remains present.
Isn’t it because he doesn’t think of himself,
That he is able to achieve his private ends?

Daodejing
Chapter 7

上善若水,水善利萬物而不爭
The highest good is like water;
Water brings good to all things without contending with them;

Daodejing
Chapter 8

生之蓄之,生而不有,為而不恃,長而不宰,是謂玄德。
Bearing and nurturing;
Bearing without possessing;
Acting without taking credit;
Leading without dominating.
This is called subtle and profound Virtue.

Daodejing
Chapter 10

保此道者不欲盈,夫唯不盈,故能蔽而新成。
Bearing and nurturing;
Bearing without possessing;
Acting without taking credit;
Leading without dominating.
This is called mysterious virtue.

Daodejing
Chapter 15

聖人常無心,以百姓心為心
The wise have no ego;
They take the mind of the people as their own.

Daodejing
Chapter 15

聖人在天下,歙歙為天下渾其心。
When the wise govern the world,
They put aside their personal desires,
To help everyone return to their natural state of simplicity.

Daodejing
Chapter 49

聖人不積,既以為人己愈有,既以與人己愈多。天之道,利而不害;聖人之道,為而不爭。
The wise never hoard.
The more they do for others, the more they have.
The more they give to others, the greater their abundance.
The Way of Heaven is to benefit and not to harm.
The way of the wise is to act without striving.

Daodejing
Chapter 81

夫唯不爭,故無尤」
By not competing with others,
You won’t be singled out for reproach.

Daodejing
Chapter 8

以其不爭,故天下莫能與之爭。」
Because the wise do not compete with others,
Nobody in the world competes with them.

Daodejing
Chapter 66

善用人者為之下,是謂不爭之德,是謂用人之力,是謂配天,古之極也。」
Great leaders place themselves below their people.
This is called the virtue of non-competition.
This is called harnessing people’s strength.
This is called the union with Heaven;
The supreme principle of the ancients.

Daodejing
Chapter 68

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