Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tao Te Ching translation (verses 40-45)

I have been translating the Tao De Jing using a dictionary and comparing translations. I have found all of them lacking – thus my ambition to make my own translation. I have already sent out the first 40 verses last year, and have just now picked up the work again, translating five more verses over the last two days.




Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

(verses 40-45)

Translated by Daniel Christopher June




Circular is the Tao’s movement

Tender is the Tao’s use.

All things spring from her.

All things come from nothingness.





The superior scholar hearing the Tao

Practices diligently and always

The mediocre scholar hearing the tao

Practices sometimes, ignores sometimes

The inferior scholar hearing the Tao

Laughs out loud.


If he didn’t laugh, the Tao would be unworthy.

Thus we have the saying:

The Tao seems Dark

Progressing on the Tao seems a retreat

Walking the level Tao seems rugged

Highest power seems as low as a valley

Great whiteness seems tainted.

Great power seems to lack

Solid power seems wobbly.

Solid reality seems shifting.


The great square lacks borders

The great vessel lacks completeness

The great music lacks loudness

The great Tao is hidden without name

Yet for this very reason

The Tao aptly provides and fulfills.



Tao begets Unity

Unity begets Duality

Duality begets Trinity

Trinity begets all things.


All things shoulder the yin

And embrace the yang.

Blending the breath between these

Brings harmony.


For this reason,

those who detest widowers and orphans

Are unworthy

Kings title themselves by these names.

Sometimes a gain brings loss

And sometimes a loss brings gain


Others have taught it and so I will I,

            The violent die violently

I make this teaching chief.




The world’s softest

Gallops over the world’s hardest.

Nothingness can enter

Where there is no crack.


I therefore know that nonaction benefits:

Wordless the wisdom

Motionless the benefit.

Few in the world obtain it.




Fame and health, which is dearer?

Health and wealth, which is best?

Gain and loss, which is worst?

Therefore, extreme love exhausts.

Therefore, huge hoards impoverish.

The contented man shames nobody.

The restrained man risks nothing.

He thus long endures.




Utter perfection seems flawed

Yet its use is never exhausted.

Utter fulness seems void

Yet its use is never spent.


Great Justice seems crooked

Great skill seems clumsy

Great eloquence seems stammering.


Briskness daunts the cold

Stillness beats the heat

Peaceful and Serene rules the World.


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