Saturday, October 29, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
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
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!
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
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.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
The Tao Te Ching (verses 59 – 63), as translated by Daniel June
In ruling humanity and serving heaven
Nothing beats moderation.
Truly! Moderation gives quick self-correction
Quick self-correction grants a heavy harvest of power.
A heavy harvest of power overcomes all.
Overcoming all means knowing no limits.
Knowing no limits, one can thereby rule humanity.
Ruling over the state, its Mother can long abide.
Deep roots, sturdy stem, immortality
A lasting insight into the Way.
Govern a big state as you would fry small fish.
Govern the world with the Way
And the tricky imps will forfeit power.
Not only will they lose their power
But the power they do have can’t harm the people.
Not only will their power not harm the people
The sage is also spared.
Truly neither is hurt.
Thus, their virtue united intensifies both.
The great state flows down like a river
Towards the union of heaven and earth.
The female through stillness
Constantly overcomes the male.
By holding still, lowers the big state.
The great state bows to the small.
That great state than overcomes the small.
The small under the great wins the great.
Thus the lower can win.
Others who are low also win.
The big state wants nothing more than to care for the small.
The small state want nothing more than to serve something great.
In this way both get what they want.
The greater rightly yields.
The Tao stores all things like a granary.
They are the treasures of the virtuos,
Safe from the bad.
Eloquence can hence do her business.
Good deeds can hence make a man.
If the others are bad, why discard what we’ve got?
The king has three ministers
To give him jade and royal horses.
Preferable would it be to give them the Tao.
The Ancients indeed honor the Tao.
Don’t they say those who seek it are freed from sin?
They thus become the world’s prize.
Act in relaxation,
Work without working,
Taste with indulging.
Magnify the small,
Increase the few.
Requite injury with kindness.
Prepare for difficulty when it is still easy
Take care of great matters when they are yet small
The world’s troubles being small enough.
The greatest enterprise starts tiny.
Thus the sage doesn’t attempt greatness
And thereby accomplishes it.
To promise rashly lacks conviction
Taking problems too lightly leads to problems.
The sage accepts the difficult for what it is.
Thus he escapes difficulty.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Each friend gets some my truth
Each my friends gets some my truth
Wife, your portion’s best
But things I cannot say to you
Brother takes and understands
Or that best friend
Or that dear soul
My soul a hundred outlets
A dozen of them gold
And each new friends allows to say
What otherwise I can’t
But Oh the old friends – longest’s best!
How deeply deep you settle in
My heart is lined with thrones of silk
Like Olympians you sit
Who then accepts the full my truth?
Who takes down every drop?
Who overhears each thing I say?
That one closest dearest all
– ever blessed Ama!