Friday, December 06, 2013

Dao De Jing by Laozi, Chapter 2

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 2

"All in the world know the beauty of the beautiful, and in doing this they have the idea of what ugliness is;
They all know the skill of the skilful, and in doing this they have the idea of what the want of skill is.
So it is that existence and non-existence give birth the one to the idea of the other;
That difficulty and ease produce the one the idea of the other;
That length and shortness fashion out the one the figure of the other;
That the ideas of height and lowness arise from the contrast of the one with the other;
That the musical notes and tones become harmonious through the relation of one with another;
That being before and behind give the idea of one following another.  
Therefore the sage manages affairs without doing anything, and
Conveys his instructions without the use of speech. 
All things spring up, and there is not one which declines to show itself;
They grow, and there is no claim made for their ownership;
They go through their processes, and there is no expectation of a reward for the results.
The work is accomplished, and there is no resting in it as an achievement.  
The work is done, but how no one can see;
'Tis this that makes the power not cease to be."
-  Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 2 

"When the world speaks of beauty as being beautiful, ugliness is at once defined.
When goodness is seen to be good, evil is at once apparent.
So do existence and non-existence mutually give rise to one another, as that which is difficult and that which is easy, distant and near, high and low, shrill and bass, preceding and following.
The Sage therefore is occupied only with that which is without prejudice.
He teaches without verbosity; he acts without effort; he produces without possessing, he acts without regard to the fruit of action; he brings his work to perfection without assuming credit; and claiming nothing as his own, he cannot at any time be said to lose."
-  Translated by Walter Gorn Old, 1904, Chapter 2  

"It is because every one under Heaven recognizes beauty as beauty, that the idea of ugliness exists.
And equally if every one recognized virtue as virtue, this would merely create fresh conceptions of wickedness.
For truly, Being and Not-being grow out of one another;
Difficult and easy complete one another.
Long and short test one another;
High and low determine one another.
Pitch and mode give harmony to one another.
Front and back give sequence to one another.
Therefore the Sage relies on actionless activity,
Carries on wordless teaching,
But the myriad creatures are worked upon by him; he does not disown them.
He rears them, but does not lay claim to them,
Controls them, but does not lean upon them,
Achieves his aim, but does not call attention to what he does;
And for the very reason that he does not call attention to what he does
He is not ejected from fruition of what he has done."
-  Translated by Arthur Waley, 1934, Chapter 2  

Concordance to the Tao Te Ching

"All men know the existence of beauty,
Beauty, cleft asunder, is ugliness.
All men know the existence of Love.
Love, cleft asunder, is hatred.
Therefore "possessions" and "Inner Life" interdepend in life.
Difficult and easy interdepend in completeness.
Long and short interdepend in form.
High and low interdepend in alternation.
Tone and voice interdepend in harmony.
Before and after interdepend in sequence.
That is why the self-controlled man
makes it his business to dwell in the Inner Life;
he teaches not by words, but by actions;
he brings all beings into action, he does not refuse them;
he gives them life, but does not possess them;
he acts, but does not look for reward;
he works out perfectness, but claims no credit.
The Master, indeed, rests not on rewards.
That is why he passes not away."
-  Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 2 

天下皆知美之為美, 斯惡已.
皆知善之為善, 斯不善已.
-  Chinese characters, Chapter 2, Tao Te Ching

tian xia jie zhi mei zhi wei mei, si e yi.
jie zhi shan zhi wei shan, si bu shan yi.
gu you wu xiang sheng.
nan yi xiang cheng.
chang duan xiang xing.
gao xia xiang qing.
yin sheng xiang he.
qian hou xiang sui.
shi yi sheng ren
chu wu wei zhi shi.
xing bu yan zhi jiao.
wan wu zuo er fu shi.
sheng er fu you.

wei er bu shi.
gong cheng er fu ju.
fu wei fu ju.
shi yi bu qu.
Pinyin transliteration, Chapter 2, Daodejing  

"When the people of the Earth all know beauty as beauty, there arises the recognition of ugliness.
When the people of the Earth all know the good as good, there arises the recognition of evil.
Being and non-being interdependent in growth;
Difficult and easy interdependent in completion;
Long and short interdependent in contrast;
High and low interdependent in position;
Tones and voice interdependent in harmony;
Front and behind interdependent in company.
Therefore the Sage:
Manages affairs without action;
Preaches the doctrine without words;
All things take their rise, but he does not turn away from them;
He gives them life, but does not take possession of them;
He acts, but does not appropriate;
Accomplishes, but claims no credit.
It is because he lays claim to no credit
That the credit cannot be taken away from him."
-  Translated by Lin Yutang, 1948, Chapter 2 

"The Beautiful being once recognized as such by the world, the Repulsive appears as its converse.
Goodness being once recognized as such, Evil appears in like manner.
Thus, existence and non-existence produce each other;
The difficult and the easy bring about each other;
The long and the short impart form to each other;
The high and low comply or change places with each other;
Sounds and voices harmonize with each other;
Priority and sequence alternate with each other.  
Wherefore the Sage pursues a policy of inaction, and teaches men in silence he conforms to the Course of Nature. 
He proceeds silently and spontaneously, and thus the people learn to govern themselves by his example without needing the interferences of legislation. 
He forms all things without shrinking from the labor; produces them without claiming the possession of virtue; acts without presuming on his ability.
He completes his achievements without taking any credit to himself.
It is only he who thus does not stand upon his merit; and therefore his merit does not depart from him."
-  Translated by Frederic H. Balfour, 1884, Chapter 2  




  1. Is there a typo in the W.G. Old translation? Shouldn't it be produces *without* possessing?

  2. Thanks for this great page, by the way. It is great to have the Pinyin along with the Chinese characters, and several English translations helps one get closer to the meaning.

  3. Chen Laoshi,

    Each of my Daodejing webpages will eventually have the Chinese characters and the Wade-Giles and Pinyin transliterations. I have found that studying the processes and results of translating from one language to another has given me even greater insights into the emergence of meaning.
    I believe you are correct about the Walter Gorn Old translation typo error.
    Best Wishes,