January 1st, 2012

30. Stan Rosenthal's Tao Te Ching Translation


When leading by the way of the Tao,
abominate the use of force,
for it causes resistance, and loss of strength,
showing the Tao has not been followed well.
Achieve results but not through violence,
for it is against the natural way,
and damages both others' and one's own true self.
The harvest is destroyed in the wake of a great war,
and weeds grow in the fields in the wake of the army.
The wise leader achieves results,
but does not glory in them;
is not proud of his victories,
and does not boast of them.
He knows that boasting is not the natural way,
and that he who goes against that way,
will fail in his endeavours.

Taoism - Stan Rosenthal's Tao Te Ching - Translation

Elevent h Day of Nonsense

On the eleventh day of sameness someone sent to me
eleven gripers griping,
ten Fords a beeping,
nine Bradys prancing,
eight maize ears silking,
seven Swamis slimming,
six speaks o' Palin,
five molding wings,
four crawling nerds.
three drenched friends,
two hurtled gloves,
and a Partridge Family CD

Neither the Dishonest nor the Honest Person is Being Who He or She Really Is.

15: Some things are all injurious to health - which are they?

From a tree a hundred years old a portion shall be cut and fashioned into a sacrificial vase, with the bull figured on it, which is ornamented further with green and yellow, while the rest (of that portion) is cut away and thrown into a ditch. If now we compare the sacrificial vase with what was thrown into the ditch, there will be a difference between them as respects their beauty and ugliness; but they both agree in having lost the (proper) nature of the wood. So in respect of their practice of righteousness there is a difference between (the robber) Kih on the one hand, and Zäng (Shän) or Shih (Zhiu) on the other; but they all agree in having lost (the proper qualities of) their nature.

Now there are five things which produce (in men) the loss of their (proper) nature. The first is (their fondness for) the five colours which disorder the eye, and take from it its (proper) clearness of vision; the second is (their fondness for) the five notes (of music), which disorder the ear and take from it its (proper) power of hearing; the third is (their fondness for) the five odours which penetrate the nostrils, and produce a feeling of distress all over the forehead; the fourth is (their fondness for) the five flavours, which deaden the mouth, and pervert its sense of taste; the fifth is their preferences and dislikes, which unsettle the mind, and cause the nature to go flying about. These five things are all injurious to the life; and now Yang and Mo begin to stretch forward from their different standpoints, each thinking that he has hit on (the proper course for men).

But the courses they have hit on are not what I call the proper course. What they have hit on (only) leads to distress; – can they have hit on what is the right thing? If they have, we may say that the dove in a cage has found the right thing for it. Moreover, those preferences and dislikes, that (fondness for) music and colours, serve but to pile up fuel (in their breasts); while their caps of leather, the bonnet with kingfishers' plumes, the memorandum tablets which they carry, and their long girdles, serve but as restraints on their persons. Thus inwardly stuffed full as a hole for fuel, and outwardly fast bound with cords, when they look quietly round from out of their bondage, and think they have got all they could desire, they are no better than criminals whose arms are tied together, and their fingers subjected to the screw, or than tigers and leopards in sacks or cages, and yet thinking that they have got (all they could wish).

◑ Sound and proper measure go against over-use and the damage and decay from it. Organs are made for being used with sound skill, after all.

◑ Stiffening indicates some error somewhere.

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Chuang Tzu Based on James Legge's Translation - The Gold Scales

On Reading from the Chuang Tzu

10: Collected works are collected words - just dregs and sediments of older times

What the world thinks the most valuable exhibition of the Tao is to be found in books. But books are only a collection of words. Words have what is valuable in them; – what is valuable in words is the ideas they convey. But those ideas are a sequence of something else; – and what that something else is cannot be conveyed by words. When the world, because of the value which it attaches to words, commits them to books, that for which it so values them may not deserve to be valued; – because that which it values is not what is really valuable.

Thus it is that what we look at and can see is (only) the outward form and colour, and what we listen to and can hear is (only) names and sounds. Alas! that men of the world should think that form and colour, name and sound, should be sufficient to give them the real nature of the Tao. The form and colour, the name and sound, are certainly not sufficient to convey its real nature; and so it is that 'the wise do not speak and those who do speak are not wise.'

How should the world know that real nature?

Duke Hwan, seated above in his hall, was (once) reading a book, and the wheelwright Phien was making a wheel below it. Laying aside his hammer and chisel, Phien went up the steps, and said,

'I venture to ask your Grace what words you are reading?'

The duke said, 'The words of the sages.'

'Are those sages alive?' Phien continued.

'They are dead,' was the reply.

'Then,' said the other, 'what you, my Ruler, are reading are only the dregs and sediments of those old men.'

The duke said,

'How should you, a wheelwright, have anything to say about the book which I am reading? If you can explain yourself, very well; if you cannot, you shall die!' The wheelwright said,

'Your servant will look at the thing from the point of view of his own art. In making a wheel, if I proceed gently, that is pleasant enough, but the workmanship is not strong; if I proceed violently, that is toilsome and the joinings do not fit. If the movements of my hand are neither (too) gentle nor (too) violent, the idea in my mind is realised. But I cannot tell (how to do this) by word of mouth; there is a knack in it. I cannot teach the knack to my son, nor can my son learn it from me. Thus it is that I am in my seventieth year, and am (still) making wheels in my old age. But these ancients, and what it was not possible for them to convey, are dead and gone: so then what you, my Ruler, are reading is but their dregs and sediments!'

◑ What is valuable in "dregs and sediments" - in words - is said to be their conveyed ideas, but much cannot be conveyed by words.

◑ What most people cherish is not what is really valuable, teaches Chuang.

◑ Husk of what was not possible for ancients to convey, is found in books.

Chuang Tzu Based on James Legge's Translation - The Gold Scales

Yet here i am,
Sitting here!
Reading this?

Honey, its Nobody Again!

"...(W)hile the actions of the Great Man are not directed to injure men, he does not plume himself on his benevolence and kindness; while his movements are not made with a view to gain, he does not consider the menials of a family as mean; while he does not strive after property and wealth, he does not plume himself on declining them; while he does not borrow the help of others to accomplish his affairs, he does not plume himself on supporting himself by his own strength, nor does he despise those who in their greed do what is mean; while he differs in his conduct from the vulgar, he does not plume himself on being so different from them; while it is (not) his desire to follow the multitude, he does not despise the glib-tongued flatterers. The rank and emoluments of the world furnish no stimulus to him, nor does he reckon its punishments and shame to be a disgrace. He knows that the right and the wrong can (often) not be distinguished, and that what is small and what is great can (often) not be defined. I have heard it said, "The Man of Tao does not become distinguished; the greatest virtue is unsuccessful; the Great Man has no thought of self; " – to so great a degree may the lot be restricted.'

Chuang Tzu Based on James Legge's Translation - The Gold Scales

Thomas Merton in The Way of Chuang Tzu, renders the last sentence as follows:
The ancients said, therefore:
"The man of Tao
remains unknown;
Perfect virtue
Produces nothing.
Is 'True-self;'
And the greatest man
is Nobody."