Why is the sea king of a hundred streams?
Because it lies below them.
Therefore it is king of a hundred streams.
If the sage would guide the people, he must serve with humility.
If he would lead them, he must follow behind.
In this way, when the sage rules, the people will not feel oppressed.;
When he stands before them, they will not be harmed.
The whole world will support him and not tire of him.
Because he does not compete,
He does not meet competition .
 Both Lau and the Ma wang tui text say that this is because it is good at being below them.
[2 Lau and the Ma wang tui text say that it is particularly in one's words that humility must shine through.
 Lau takes these two lines in a more affirmative manner: 'Therefore the sage takes his place over the people yet is no burden; takes his place ahead of the people yet causes no obstruction.' The Ma wang tui text says they do not find him heavy or see him as posing a threat.
 The Ma wang tui text says that they delight in praising him.
 The Ma wang tui text puts this as a question: 'Is it not because he is not contentious, that...etc.?'
As with chapter 31, Wang Pi has made no comment on this one.
Professor Cheng says that, for all Lao-tze sometimes seems repetitious, this is just evidence of his compassionate heart and we should not reject him because of it. 'If we lead the people with ignorance,' he says, 'of what use will cleverness be?'
Interestingly, if one really is without contentiousness, then, even when others wish to contend with you, you won't see it like that.
Quite how you see it, contentious little bugger that I am, I have not the vaguest idea, but I am assured by those who know that this is the case.
There's an old Chinese saying: 'The best father is a bit dim'.
Assuming this to mean that one can let many things pass, not pouncing on every detail like a cat on a waving piece of grass, and yet still not being duped as to what's really important, I've tried my best to live my fatherhood by it.
But - because I am contentious - because I am a sharp and rather sarcastic critic, in fact, very sure of my 'rightness' as far as how things should be if they're to 'go smoothly' - I make many mistakes and have sometimes hurt my kids quite badly I would guess.
I try to be aware, try not to foist my own encrusted views on them and to allow things to develop as they will and trust in the process, but... there are moments when I just can't keep myself from meddling... This would be fine if it had ever worked, but it doesn't, does it?
And just how to pull that one off I have no idea.
It's easy to talk about being above yet joyfully supported from below, being in front yet posing no threat - even of staying behind yet not pushing - but... actually pulling it off... actually letting things just be as they are, actually understanding that - in their very 'just are-ness' - things really are the blissful manifestation of emptiness unfolding... is somewhat less easily done.
One wanders on... ever hopeful.