Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Dao De Jing 1

Dao De Jing 1

The Way that can be talked about is not the unchanging Way—
The Name that can be named is not the unchanging Name—
Nameless, it generates heaven & earth;
Named, it is Mother of the ten thousand things—
Always free of attachment observe the unchanging cause
Always holding onto attachment observe the outer boundary—
These two aspects come from the same source, with different names, but together they are named the Profound—
The Profound within the Profound is the door to the essence of all

Laozi, 道德經
Translation by John Hayes

NOTE: Although there are many aspects of this passage that could be noted, the one I want to draw your attention to is the opening line. This contains an untranslatable pun:  道可道,非常道 [dào kě dào fēi cháng dào]. The character 道dào carries multiple meanings, including “road, journey, method, skill, method, law, doctrine, to speak, to talk; in its own way, 道 is as untranslatable as the Greek λόγος [logos], which we know from the beginning of the Gospel According to St John, though it’s a concept in Greek philosophy dating at least as far back as Heraclitus; in fact, 道 shares several meanings with λόγος.

Unlike with my original poetry & poetry translations, I don’t asset a copyright claim on my translation of the Dao De Jing. It may be freely used under the terms of the Creative Commons license.

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
Bagua diagram by Zhao Huiqian ("River Chart spontaneously [generated] by Heaven and Earth" 圖河.自地天). Circa 1370. Also found in Hu Wei’s “Yitu mingbian” ("Clarification of the diagrams in the book of changes"), dated 1706.
Public domain.

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