Saturday, August 11, 2012

tao te ching (verses 74-81)

These last eight verses finish my first draft of the Tao Te Ching. As I said from the start, it is my favorite scripture, and this from its inherent modesty, subtlety, wit, and grace. This was written by a beautiful and sensitive soul -- unlike most other scriptures I have read. Having finished the 81 verses, using a dictionary, I have created a crude rough draft -- hopelessly flawed and useless for anything serious. My next directive will be to closely compare it to some other extant translations, and check it against guides and notes on the verses; through this I will approach a more scholarly-ish draft 2.


take care, caretakers!







The people don’t worry about death

How then shall we make them afraid?

Suppose you threaten them

If they act dishonestly

We can seize and destroy such presumption!


There has ever been the master executioner

Yet instead of the master executioner who kills

Let's substitute the master artisan who crafts


Truly, such a great artisan

As he cuts out the dead wood

Will he not also cut his own hands?




The people starve

Because the government devours their taxes

It's too much, so they starve


The people revolt

Because the government meddles too much

Therefore, they are difficult to rule


The people have no respect for death

because their lives are anxious enough

They therefore take death lightly


Truly, only the one not striving for life

Is worthy of esteeming life’s worth.




A man's life is tender and pliant

Yet he dies hard and unyielding

All things such as grass and trees are soft and delicate

Yet they die rigid and dry

Therefore, hard and stiff are death's companions

Tender and gentle are life's companions


And so, the forceful army can't win

Just as the unyielding tree will be hacked


The unyielding mighty

Will lower themselves

The tender and weak

Ascend above.




Heaven's way is like flexing a bow

When high you aim low

When low you aim high

If there's not enough slack

You pull less

If there's too much

You pull more:

Heaven's way is to decrease excess.

And supplement inadequacy


Man's way is otherwise:

Those who don't have enough

Pay to those who have too much


Let the man of abundance

Give to all

Only the man of Tao does this

Only a sage

Gives without expecting gratitude

Credits but doesn't expect to be credited

He doesn't want to appear great.




Nothing on earth is softer than water

Yet for assaulting the hard, it is the best.

Nothing could replace it.

The weak defeats the strong

The tender betters the stiff

Everyone knows this –

But who acts accordingly?


Therefore, the sage says

That to protect the nation’s disgrace

One is called Lord of the Earth

And to guard the people accursed

One deserves to rule over Earth’s face.

These words sound paradoxical

But they sound out the truth.



When balancing great hatred

Some will surely remain

How to make that good?

The sage therefore

Accepts his debt

Yet doesn’t demand what he’s owed.

Nobility keeps its word

Lacking such virtue

One holds back his due


Heaven’s Way holds no favors

It follows the goodness of the good.



Let the state be small

And the citizens few

Let them greatly multiply

Their tools beyond use

Let them respect death

And travel but little

Though having boats and ships aplenty.

Though having armor and weapons

Let them leave off.


Let men return to knotting ropes for reminders

Let them enjoy their food

Let their clothes be beautiful

And their homes content.

Let them delight in everyday life

Let they and their neighbors

Mutually overlook the other.

Let dogs and roosters give ear to each other.

The people will gracefully age

And die without all this running around.




Sincerity is artless

The artful insincere.

The righteous don’t dispute

The disputatious aren’t right.

Wisdom isn’t scholarly

The scholars don’t know.


The sage doesn’t hoard.

Since he works for others

He furthers himself

Having given to the people

He has so much more

The Way benefits without injuring

The Sage’s Way Works without Striving.



\ ~@M@~ /


No comments: