Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Book of Tao versus 1-9

Okay after translating two I got hooked: who knew lay-translating ancient Chinese could be so fun?

Here are the first 9 (of 81) versus of the book of Tao.





The path that can be passed is not the eternal path

The name that can be named is not the eternal name.


Nameless it is the origin of heaven and earth

Named she is the mother of myriads.


Ever habitless sees the secret

Ever habitual sees manifestations.

These two are of the same source

Though differently named.


It is mystery, mystery and again mystery

The gate of all wonder.




Under heaven

All recognize beauty for beauty

because of ugliness alone.

All recognize virtue for virtue

because of vice alone.


Hard and easy complete

Long and short compare.

High and low lean each upon each.

String and voice harmonize.

Front and back encircle.


Thus the great man works relaxed

and Wordlessly teaches;

Myriads impose and he dismisses none.


He makes, but not to own

Works, but not to earn.

He accomplishes but doesn’t stop.

Because he doesn’t dwell on it

it never dies.




Avoid exulting the great

Lest the people compete

Avoid prizing treasures

Lest the people steal

Avoid parading temptations

Lest the people’s soul’s seethe.


The Sage’s rule

Empties their soul

to fill their core

Weakens their will

To bronze their bones.


Ever lacking cunning and desire

they become truly cunning and relaxed.


Working without work

Everything works out.





Tao of the empty heart

Is yet never poured empty.

Her abyss seems the source of myriads


Blunt the blade

Soften the knot

Cloud the glare

Mix the dust


Such depth!

She seems forever.


I know not her parent

She precedes God.




Heaven and Earth are not sentimenal

Thus they look upon the myriads

as mere grass for the fire


The Sage is not senitmental

Thus he looks upon the people

as mere grass for the fire.


Heaven and Earth

are like a bellows

Empied they are not exhausted

Moved they move anew


But if a man talks long

He counts himself out.

Better to sit long

and encounter his inner.




The Valley Spirit does not expire.

She is the secret womb of the mare.

And the secret womb is our gate.

She births heaven and earth.


She bides and abides forever

Use her inexuastibility.




Heaven is eternal, Earth enduring.

Heaven and earth are eternal and enduring

Because they do not live of themselves

Therefore they eternally live.


Therefore the Sage

Stays in the background

being the foreground.


He rejects himself to preserve himself.

Is he not without self?

Therefore he fulfills himself.




Greatness is like water.

Water benifts the myraids

without fuss.

It cleanses were few

care to go

Thus is approximates the Tao.


Great is a lowly house

Great is the deep heart.

Great is kindness to others.

Great is sincere speech.

Great is fair rule.

Great is competent work.

Great is rhythmed movement.


He doesn’t fuss

Therefore he is faultless.




Holding the bow taut and overly taut

It is better to release.

A knife sharpened and over sharpened

Will break.


Pile up gold and jewels

And try to keep the thieves out!

Pile up airs and arrogance

and try to keep your dignity!


Do your work and then step back.

This is Heaven’s Tao.




\\ Perfection Is Easy //


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