title: Tao Te Ching 7 - The Master stays behind

Book - Tao Te Ching - Lao Tzu

Stephen Mitchell Translation

The Tao is infinite, eternal. Why is it eternal? It was never born; thus it can never die. Why is it infinite? It has no desires for itself; thus it is present for all beings.

The Master stays behind; that is why she is ahead. She is detached from all things; that is why she is one with them. Because she has let go of herself, she is perfectly fulfilled. - Stephen Mitchell

Other translations I like

Heaven will last, earth will endure. How can they last so long? They don’t exist for themselves and so can go on and on.

So wise souls leaving self behind move forward, and setting self aside stay centered. Why let the self go? To keep what the soul needs Ursula Le Guin

Heaven and Earth are everlasting The reason Heaven and Earth can last forever Is that they do not exist for themselves Thus they can last forever

Therefore the sages: Place themselves last but end up in front Are outside of themselves and yet survive Is it not all due to their selflessness? That is how they can achieve their own goals Derek Lin