Friday, February 02, 2018

Dao De Jing, Laozi, Chapter 14


Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu

Chapter 14



"Look for It, you won't see It: It is called 'fleeting'.
Listen for It, you won't hear It: It is called 'thin'. 
Grasp at It, You can't get It: It is called 'subtle'.

These three lines
       are about something that evades scrutiny.
Yes, in it everything blends and becomes one.


Its top is not bright
Its underside is not dim.
Always unnameable, It turns back to nothingness. 
This is the shape of something shapeless
The form of a nothing
this is elusive and evasive.
 

Encountering It, you won't see the front
Following It, you won't see Its back.


Keep to the Tao of the ancients
And so manage things happening today.

The ability to know the ancient sources,
this is the main thread of Tao."
-  Translated by Michael LaFargue, 1992, Chapter 14 




"When you're sitting, trying to get in touch with the Softness, the One important thing, it evades your grasp─like a spirit that appears here, then there, then is gone.  You think you see it, then it recedes into nothing.  This is the only way to describe the presence that is formless.  But in this practice we achieve a oneness.  And we come in contact with the deep sources of all things, the ancient sources that enable us to handle whatever comes to us today."  ...  "I take "know the ancient sources" of things to mean gaining an intuitive understanding of the deep truth about affairs.  (As often, "ancient" serves to express what we more commonly express by images of "depth" or "Origin."  (Note that here Tao is not the name of the ancient source that one knows, but of the practice by which one comes to know it.)  It seems very unlikely that "these three" refers to the three different things mentioned [i.e., seeing, listening, grasping] which "become one."  It makes more sense to suppose that "these three" refers to the three line saying, which is about a presence or mental quality incapable of being grasped through close mental scrutiny.  in this mental space everything is Merged, "blends and becomes one."  This observation is a partial basis for my solution to the puzzle about the meaning of Chapter 1, reading literally "these two, merged."  That is, it refers to the previous two-line saying in Chapter 1, which is (partly) about the state of "not desiring," which identifies with a mentally Still state called t'ung/"The Merging.""
-  Michael LaFargue  



The Tao of the Tao Te Ching.  A Translation and Commentary by Michael LaFargue.  State University of New York Press, 1992.  Detailed glossary, extensive bibliography, 270 pages. This translation is based on the oldest version ( 168 BCE) of the Tao Te Ching found in King Ma's tomb - the famous Magwandali manscript.  81 Chapters arranged in a topical order by the author.  Chapter 14, pp. 80-81. 



The Tao and Method: A Reasoned Approach to the Tao Te Ching.  A translation and commentary by Professor Michael LaFargue.  New York, SUNY Press, 1994.  640 pages.  Detailed index, bibliography, notes, and tables.  An essential research tool. 








"What you don't see when you look
is called the unobtrusive.
What you don hear when you listen
is called the rarefied.
What you don't get when you grasp
is called the subtle.
These three cannot be completely fathomed,
so they merge into one:
above is not bright, below is not dark.
Continuous, unnameable, it returns again to
     nothing.
This is called the stateless state,
the image of no thing;
this is called mental abstraction.
When you face it you do not see its head,
when you follow it you do not see its back.
Hold the ancient Way
so as to direct present existence:
only when you can know the ancient
can this be called the basic cycle of the Way."
-  Translated by Thomas Cleary, 1991, Chapter 14



"Looked at, but cannot be seen -
That is called the Invisible (yi).
Listened to, but cannot be heard -
That is called the Inaudible (hsi).
Grasped at, but cannot be touched -
That is called the Intangible (wei).
These three elude our inquiries
And hence blend and become One.

Not by its rising, is there light,
Nor by its sinking, is there darkness.
Unceasing, continuous,
It cannot be defined,
And reverts again to the realm of nothingness.

That is why it is called the Form of the Formless,
The Image of Nothingness.
That is why it is called the Elusive:
Meet it and you do not see its face;
Follow it and you do not see its back."
-  Translated by Lin Yutang, 1955, Chapter 14  





視之不見名曰夷.
聽之不聞名曰希.
搏之不得名曰微.
此三者不可致詰.
故混而為一.
其上不皦其下不昧.
繩繩不可名.
復歸於無物.
是謂無狀之狀.
無物之象.
是謂惚恍.
迎之不見其首.
隨之不見其後.
執古之道.
以御今之有.
能知古始.
是謂道紀.
-  Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 14



shih chih pu chien ming yüeh yi.
t'ing chih pu wên ming yüeh hsi.
po chih pu tê ming yüeh wei.
tz'u san chê pu k'o chih chieh.
ku hun erh wei yi.
ch'i shang pu chiao ch'i hsia pu mei.
shêng shêng pu k'o ming.
fu kuei yü wu wu.
shih wei wu chuang chih chuang.
wu wu chih hsiang.
shih wei hu huang.
ying chih pu chien ch'i shou.
sui chih pu chien ch'i hou.
chih ku chih tao.
yi yü chin chih yu.
nêng chih ku shih.
shih wei tao chi.
-  Wade-Giles Romanization, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 14



"We look for it but do not see it:
    we name it "subtle."
We listen for it but do not hear it;
    we name it "rare."
We grope for it but do not grasp it;
    we name it "serene."
These three cannot be fully fathomed,
Therefore,
They are bound together to make unity.
Of unity,
its top is not distant,
its bottom is not blurred.
Infinitely extended
and unnameable,
It returns to non-entity.
This is called
"the form of the formless,"
"the image of nonentity."
This is called "the amorphous."
Following behind it,
    you cannot see its back;
Approaching it from the front,
    you cannot see its head.
Hold to the Way of today
    to manage the actualities of today
    thereby understanding the primeval beginning.
This is called "the thread of the Way.""
-  Translated by Victor H. Mair, 1990, Chapter 14 



"When you look, it isn't there
 Listen and you cannot hear it
 It seems to be beyond your reach
 Because you are so near it
 This single source of everything
 Appears to be an empty image
 Though it cannot be understood
 You can see its naked visage
 Follow it to nothingness
 Approach it where you have no face
 From nowhere to infinity
 This vacant image leaves no trace
 From never to eternity
 This naked face is what you are
 An empty, vacant, open door
 Forevermore ajar"
 -  Translated by Jim Clatfelder, 2000, Chapter 14   



"Se le llama invisible porque mirándole no se le ve.
Se le llama inaudible porque escuchándole no se le oye.
Se le llama impalpable porque tocándole no se le siente.
Estos tres estados son inescrutables y se confunden en uno solo.
En lo alto no es luminoso, en lo bajo no es oscuro.
Es eterno y no puede ser nombrado, retorna al no-ser de las cosas.
Es la forma sin forma y la imagen sin imagen.
Es lo confuso e inasible.
De frente no ves su rostro, por detrás no ves su espalda.
Quien es fiel al Tao antiguo domina la existencia actual.
Quien conoce el primitivo origen posee la esencia del Tao."   

-  Translation from Wikisource, 2013, Tao Te Ching, Capítulo 14



"Look at it: nothing to see.
Call it colorless.
Listen to it: nothing to hear.
Call it soundless.
Reach for it: nothing to hold.
Call it intangible.
Triply undifferentiated,
it merges into oneness,
not bright above,
not dark below.
Never, oh! never
can it be named.
It reverts, it returns
to unbeing.
Call it the form of the unformed,
the image of no image.
Call it the unthinkable thought.
Face it: no face.
Follow it: no end.
Hold fast to the old Way,
we can live in the present.
Mindful of the ancient beginnings,
we hold the thread of the Tao."
-  Translated by Ursula K. Le Guin, 1997, Chapter 14 



"Look, it cannot be seen,
So it is called invisible.
Listen, it cannot be heard,
So it is called soundless.
Touch, it cannot be caught,
So it is called elusive.
These three cannot be examined,
So they unite into one.  
Above it there is no light,  
Below it there is no darkness.
Endlessness beyond description.
It returns to non-existence.
It is called the shapeless shape,
The substance without form.
It is called obscurely evasive.
Meet it and you do not see its beginning,
Follow it and you do not see its end.
Hold on to the ancient Way to master the present,
And to learn the distant beginning.
This is called the unbroken strand of the Way."
-  Translated by Stefan Stenudd, Chapter 14



"Looking for it, it cannot be seen -
Being formless, it is called Yi, the invisible.
Listening to it, it cannot be heard -
Being soundless, it is called Hsi, the inaudible.
Grasping at it, it cannot be reached -
Being subtle, it is called Wei, the intangible.
These three; imperceptible, indescribable -
Mystically united and elusively perceived
as an undefinable oneness.

As the oneness ascends - no light appears.
As the oneness descends - no darkness is perceived.
Unceasingly, continually, form eluding definition,
Evasively reverting to spirit - to nothingness.
The form of formlessness.
The image of imagelessness.
The oneness remains nameless.
Meeting it, it has no part which is front.
Following it, it has no behind.

Encompassing the ancient Tao,
Present affairs are mastered.
Knowing the primal nature of mankind
and the universe,
Is to know the essence of Tao."
-  Translated by Alan B. Taplow, 1982, Chapter 14 



 "Plainness is that which cannot be seen by looking at it.
 Stillness is that which cannot be heard by listening to it.
 Rareness is that which cannot be felt by handling it.
 These, being indiscernible, may be regarded as a Unity of the Tao.
 It is not bright above nor dark beneath.
 Infinite in operation, it is yet without name.
 Issuing forth it enters into Itself.
 This is the appearance of the Non-Apparent, the form of the Non-Existent.
 This is the unfathomable mystery.
 Going before, its face is not seen; following after, its back is not observed.
 Yet to regulate one's life by the ancient knowledge of Tao is to have found the path."
 -  Translated by Walter Gorn Old, 1904, Chapter 14






A typical webpage created by Mike Garofalo for each one of the 81 Chapters (Verses, Sections) of the Tao Te Ching (Daodejing) by Lao Tzu (Laozi) includes over 25 different English language translations or interpolations for that Chapter, 5 Spanish language translations for that Chapter, the Chinese characters for that Chapter, the Wade-Giles and Hanyu Pinyin transliterations (Romanization) of the Mandarin Chinese words for that Chapter, and 2 German and 1 French translation of that Chapter.  Each webpage for each one of the 81 Chapters of the Tao Te Ching includes extensive indexing by key words, phrases, and terms for that Chapter in English, Spanish, and the Wade-Giles Romanization.  Each webpage on a Chapter of the Daodejing includes recommended reading in books and websites, a detailed bibliography, some commentary, research leads, translation sources, a Google Translate drop down menu, and other resources for that Chapter.   

Chapter 14, Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu


Chapter and Thematic Index (Concordance) to the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu


English Language Daodejing Translators' Source Index


Spanish Language Daodejing Translators' Source Index


Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices


Taoism: A Selected Reading List











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