The great Tao is universal.
All beings depend on it for life;
even so, it does not take possession of them.
It accomplishes its purpose,
but makes no claims for itself.
It nourishes infinite worlds,
yet it doesn’t seek to dominate
even the smallest creature.
Since it is without wants and desires,
it can be called humble.
All of creation returns to it as to their home,
but it does not seek to master or control;
thus, it may be called great.
The Master imitates this conduct:
by not claiming greatness,
she is able to accomplish truly great things.
According to Lao Tzu the key to greatness is to witness the natural Way of life – the infinite flow of the Tao – and to emulate it as much as we can in our daily lives.
In living the Tao, we do what we do, but make no claims for ourselves. We nourish and sustain others, but never seek to dominate anyone or anything. We have mastered our tendency to relate to the world through a screen of wants and desires and express a true and authentic humility.
Perhaps one of the key lessons in this verse is to stop trying to ‘be great’. Instead, if we simply come into alignment with our true nature and quit trying so hard to ‘be’ and ‘do’, we find that a very natural and authentic greatness occurs all by itself. There’s really nothing we have to do in order to achieve this greatness. It arises spontaneously when we loosen the reigns and relax into a deeper, fuller expression of that which we are.