Is not the way of heaven like the stretching of a bow?
The high it presses down,
The low it lifts up;
The excessive it takes from
The deficient it gives to.
It is the way of heaven to take from what has in excess in order to make good what is deficient. The way of man is otherwise. It takes from those who are in want in order to offer this to those who already have more than enough. Who is there that can take what he himself has in excess and offer this to the empire? Only he who has the way.
Therefore the sage benefits them yet exacts no gratitude,
Accomplishes his task yet lays claim to no merit.
Is this not because he does not wish to be considered a better man than others?
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Tr. D.C. Lau. N.Y.: Penguin, Rpt. 1971.