Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tao verses 64, 65, 66


A few more translations of the Tao – we are closing up the gap to 81 verses. After this, I intend to carefully read the writings of Chaung, a rival interpretation, write an essay on my experience of the Tao, offer the manuscript to a Chinese speaking friend, and finally come back, make another draft, write a light commentary, and consider the book done.


The “try and you’ll fail” logic of these verses is troubling, and I don’t think we should translate them into terms that readily make sense to us, but keep them starkly paradoxical.


These verses express wisdom. Again and again the verses are phrases as advice to kings, so we must spiritualize that, being not quite kings ourselves!






That at peace is easy to hold

The not yet is readily prepared for

The brittle is quickly smashed

The vague is with a word dispersed.


Approach your problems before they’re established

Manage them before they’re trouble

A hug-wide tree grows from a sprout

A nine story tower comes from small shovels of dirt

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single footstep.


Try and you’ll fail

Grab and it slips

Thus the holy man

Who doesn’t try

Doesn’t fail

He doesn’t grab

It doesn’t slip.

The people, always chasing their business,

Are ever close to success but inevitably fail.

Be careful all the way to the end

As you were in the beginning

And you won’t ruin your business.

The sage who doesn’t desire desires

Who doesn’t seek rare treasures

He reminds the people what they missed

He helps them find themselves

--Yet without daring to do a single thing!



Those ancients

Skilled at the Tao

They didn’t enlighten the people

Who were too simple for that


The people are difficult to rule

When they know too much

Accordingly, rule the people with cleverness

And you rule to their ruin

Govern naively

And you rule to their fortune

He who knows this balanced pair

Holds the template.

The standard template is a profound power

Profound power goes deep and far

All things regress to their godhood.

Thus the great balance.




The rivers seek the sea

To be kings of a hundred valleys;

Because they lower themselves

They are kings over a hundred valleys.

Wanting to stand above the people

You must lower your speech.

Wanting to lead

You must follow them.

Thus if the stage stands above the people

They don’t feel his weight

He stays first by doing no harm

The world rejoices and praises him endlessly.


Because he doesn’t compete, the world can’t beat him.



No comments: