Flow Like Water “Tao Te Ching” verse 8 for Artists

by | May 31, 2014 | 0 comments

Flow Like Water "Tao Te Ching" verse 8 for Artists illustration of sumi-e bouquet painting.
Verse 8*


The highest goodness resembles water
Water greatly benefits myriad things without contention
It stays in places that people dislike
Therefore it is similar to the Tao
Dwelling with the right location
Feeling with great depth
Giving with great kindness
Speaking with great integrity
Governing with great administration
Handling with great capability
Moving with great timing
Because it does not contend
It is therefore beyond reproach


The true artist is the one who serves his/hers highest purpose, which to communicate with the viewer with integrity. Lao Tzu uses the characteristics of water as an analogy to describe the actions and the capabilities required to be an authentic artist. Like water, the artist is to dive into one’s own depth, into places, where many wouldn’t go. Using the solid knowledge of understanding the materials and technique (a solid base), the artist is to create with sincerity, and honesty to oneself and others and with his/her art, without arrogance, to speak to everybody, no matter how artistically informed or knowledgeable the audience is.

And above all the artist is to go, as they say “with the flow” and not against ones own nature or external abstractions.

Working in applying all those attributes together the artist would be successful in conveying his/her message and making their own statement/contribution with their art.

* I am using  Translation by Derek Lin as examples of verses, but there are many different translations with different nuances and sensibilities of the translators. 

 I find the beauty of theses verses is that one can never completely conclude anything, just get the glimpse of their meaning. Every time one reads it, finds another angle or insight…Please share your own insights. 



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