Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Verses 10-18 of the book of the Way

Okay, here’s the next set of 9 verses from the Book of the Way.

I decided to translate the whole thing

Since by this I am learning so much


I will send my fruits to your pantry

With nine more tomorrow.





Are you able to enfold body and soul

As One without two?

Can you gather grow

and remain newborn?

Can you shine the mind’s mirror

And leave no mark?


Can you love and lead the people

and set aside cunning?

As heaven blows and eases

can you remain a faithful mother bird?


Shining and penetrating the four directions

Can you remain inactive?


Engender them, rear them.

Engender but don’t own.

Work but don’t hold.

Lead but don’t control.

This describes the dark power.




Thirty spokes make a single wheel,

Whose use depends on the emptiness of the hub.

Mold the clay into a bowl

Whose use depends on the emptiness within.

Fashion a room

Whose use depends on emptying out doors and windows.


Usefulness makes benefit.

Emptiness makes usefulness.




Five colors blind the eye

Five notes harshen the ear

Five tastes dul the tongue.


Running about hunting afield

leads one mad.

Rare treasures hinder progress.


The sage fills his heart not his eyes.

He holds to the former and dismisses the latter.




Both honor and dishonor bring anxiety.

Dignity and Calmnity attend the body.


What is meant by this first?

Honor brings you low

Receive it with dread.

For both forbode.


What is meant by the second?

Without a body what would I worry about?

Therefore honor the body under heaven

As one fit for heaven.

Love the body under heaven

and you will be fit for heaven.




See the unseen and name it invisible.

Hear the unheard and name it inaudible.

Grasp the ungraspable and name it intangible.

These three cannot be further gained.


For they work into one

Whose above is not bright

Whose below is not dark.


The infinite thread, nameless

Returns in turn

From nonexistence.

Call this formless form.

Call this elusive illusion.


Approach it and you will see no face

Follow it and you will see no back.


Stay with the ancient Way

To master present matters.


Able to know the ancient origin

This is called the thread of the Way.




The ancient skillfully working masters

Keen in penetrating subtle depths

Are to deep themselves to fathom.

For this very reason they are fathomless.

Therefore let’s try to describe their appearance.


They are cautious as walking a winter river.

Vigilant as fearing four directions of enemies.

Courteous as a guest.

Supple as melting ice.

Promising as uncut jade.

Open as a valley

Obscure as murk.


They can settle the murk pure

with a long calm.

Or they can quiet it

with an enduring stir

and bring it to life?


Holding this way

he does not crave fulfillment

Thus as he grows old

He makes new.





Attain the highest emptiness.

Keep contantly relaxed.

Now the myriads arise together

Let’s turn to their returning.


As all these things

Burst and bloom

Each in turn returns to its source.


Returning to the source is called relax.

This means returning to life.

Returning to life is called eternal.

(Knowing the eternal is called enlightenment.

Not knowing the eternal in error brings disaster)

Knowing the eternal makes one open.

Openess makes one Catholic.

Catholicity makes on noble.

Nobility makes one heavenly.

Heaven is the Way.

Heaven makes one eternal.

Returning your life, and you lose danger.





The people do best to know greatness.

Second best to love him.

Third best to fear him.

Worst to hate him.


Faith is insufficient;

You will find no wothy faith.


Quietly esteem words.

Put your work and deeds in order

And the people will say:

marvel at what we did!





When the great Way is forgotten

Humanity and Virtue burst freely.

When people merely know the right way

They become hypocrites.


When the family dissolves

We praise family values.

When the heart runs cold

We praise love.

When the government fails

We praise patriotism.

When politicians are worthless

We praise them the more.

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