Taoteching 8

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Millionaires seek high-elevation view properties on which to build their trophy homes.

Water dwells in low-lying swamps and steep gorges considered unbuildable and worthless.

Diamonds are not essential for life, yet they are priced higher than any other jewel.

Without water life cannot exist, yet it is priced lower than any other commodity.

The sage is like water.


"Xena, why have you camped your army on this plain, and let Caesar go for the high ground?"

"Because in this war, Gabhopper, we are the guest, and Caesar is the host. Therefore I yield the hill of honor to him and accept this lowstation."

"But he can see our entire force, while we cannot know what strength he has hidden behind the ridge!"

"Ah, but Gabhopper, that would only be important if we were the attacker. In that case we would tire ourselves fighting uphill and possibly be surprised by hidden forces waiting to ambush. Instead, my army is like water, dwelling in the low places considered of negligable value."

"Why is that an advantage, Xena?"

"Is not water itself vital if people are to live? Do not people seek it out in wells and rivers and even swamps?"

"So you're saying Caesar will come to us?"

"By our mere continued presence on this plain Caesar will begin to covet this plain."

"But Xena, we are ringed by hills all around. When he attacks, we will not know from which direction he will come!"

"Yes, Gabhopper, but his forces are spread like a ring all around us while we have the interior lines of communication. Anywhere he attacks I can order reinforcements within minutes. But anywhere I counterattack he will be weak. Do you see, dear disciple, why we humble ourselves by keeping to the lowland?"

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