Heaven and earth can long endure,
Because they do not give themselves life,
Hence they can long continue to exist.
The wise person places his life last yet life comes first,
Is outside his life, yet lives life.
Non conforming as well as without personal evil!
Hence he is able to succeed personally.
1) heaven (nature; God) long the earth for a long time. (i.e., enduring as the universe; everlasting and unchanging) 天长地久。(tiān cháng dì jiŭ)
2) heaven and earth (world; universe) so (therefore; as a result) ability (energy; can) long just (for the time being) for a long time (者), 天地所以能长且久者，(tiān dì suŏ yĭ néng cháng qiĕ jiŭ zhĕ)
3) use (<v> take <p> according to; because of <adj> so as to <conj> and) his (her; its; their; that; such) no (not) self (oneself) give birth to (bear; grow; existence; life), 以其不自生，(yĭ qí bù zì shēng)
4) incident (happening; reason; cause; hence) ability (energy; can) long (of long duration) perdure (to continue to exist). 故能长生。(gù néng cháng shēng)
5) <grm> is (yes <frml> this; that) use (<v> take <p> according to; because of <adj> so as to <conj> and) sage (holy; sacred) human (man; people) back (behind; rear; after) his/her/its body (life; oneself) <conj.> and (yet, but) body (life; oneself) earlier (before; first), 是以圣人后其身而身先，(shì yĭ shèng rén hòu qí shēn ér shēn xiān)
6) outer (outward; other) his (her; its; that; such) body (life; oneself) <conj.> and (yet, but) body (life; oneself) exist (live; survive; keep). 外其身而身存。(wài qí shēn ér shēn cún)
7) wrong (not conform to; run counter to; not) use (<v> take <p> according to; because of <adj> so as to <conj> and) his (her; its; that; such) nothing (without) personal (secret; illicit) evil (heretical; irregular)! 非以其无私邪！(fēi yĭ qí wú sī xié)
8) incident (happening; reason; cause; hence) ability (energy; can) accomplish (succeed; become; turn into; result) his (her; its; that; such) personal (secret; illicit). 故能成其私。(gù néng chéng qí sī)
WfW Commentary – 2012
Here again we see the emotionally confounding truth of how we only really ‘get’ what we ‘give up’. Christ put it this way: ‘Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it’. We (and all life) feels an innate need to hold on, to contend, yet we can only know contentment when we let go. A harmonious life rests in the delicate balance between competition and cooperation with ourselves, others, and nature.
Scripture is mostly biased towards the cooperation side of the equation. I think, however, not because cooperation is the greater virtue. Rather, civilization’s core purpose has always been to tip the scales in our favor vis-à-vis our competition with nature. Thus, balance for humanity requires tipping the scales in favor of cooperation in order to merely return us to the middle — the happy middle. All that stands in our way is our species’ exceptional cleverness.