The Highest Good Is Like Water
In the eighth chapter of Laozi’s Daodejing, there is a famous saying, “The highest good is like water.” In my opinion, water has three main characteristics: flowing downhill, purifying dirt and benefiting everything without contending, which are also possessed by the highest good.
Water always flows downhill and so does the highest good. Water is always in accordance with its natural tendency—flowing downhill by gravity. During the flowing period, it evaporates constantly and changes into gas and steam. Finally, in the form of cloud, it flies in the blue sky, higher than everything on the earth. The highest good is just like water. In interpersonal relationship, people struggle upwards. Everyone is engaged in a bitter life-or-death battle, believing that the fittest survive and the weakest fail. But people with the highest good stand aloof from worldly affairs. They are willing to suffer losses and stay humble, believing that if one accepts a little disadvantage, it will turn out to be advantages. Eventually they achieve the highest state.
Water purifies dirt and so does the highest good. Chernyshevsky, the famous Russian philosopher, once said that, “Water reflects everything around picturesquely and sways every winding. The water we see is the best artist who paints from life.” Lucent water is a bright mirror. Purity and dirt manifests before it. Even if it sometimes flows rapidly and carries sediment, it will return to clear when it finally stops. The highest good can be like water. Good and evil manifests before it. And it always keeps the original good intention, in spite of the changeable surroundings. In Hugo’s Les Miserables, the priest not only took Jean Valjean in after he knew that he was a criminal, but also forgave him for stealing his silverware by saying to the police that it was given to him as a gift. The priest showed the highest good and purified the soul of Jean Valjean, helping him become good....
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