Laozi’s Dao De Jing (core 33 chapters)
Translated by LI Siming, 2011
11. Dualistic nature of beingness vs. nothingness
Thirty spokes, forms a wheel, together with the empty space within,
yields the functionality of a car.
Clay when fashioned into vessels, together with the empty space within,
yields the functionality of a vessel.
Doors and windows when cut to form a room, together with the empty space within,
yields the functionality of a room.
Therefore, beingness offers convenience, nothingness offers functionality.
14. Formless and timeless nature of the Dao
Look but could not see, is called ‘Yi’;
Listen but could not hear, is called ‘Xi’;
Grasp but could not get, is called ‘Wei’.
These three qualities alone could provide an accurate description (of the Dao),
therefore we blend them together as one.
Its upper part is not bright, its lower part is not obscure.
Ceaseless and cannot be named, it goes back to nothingness.
This is the formless form, non-thing phenomenon, this is between seems and seem-not.
We meet it and do not see its front, we follow it and do not see its back.
Align with this ancient way, to master today’s things.
Able to know this ancient origin, is the nature of the Dao.
16. Going back to emptiness and stillness
Reach the end of emptiness, abide in the end of stillness.
Things manifest, i see coming and going.
Despite of diversity, things all eventually return to their root.
Returning to the root is stillness, is called answering to destiny.
Answering to destiny is normal, knowing this normalness is wisdom.
Not knowing this normalness, is recklessly doing dangerous deeds.
Knowing brings compassion, compassion brings impartiality, impartiality brings nobility,
nobility becomes heavenly, heavenly is a quality of Dao,
Dao is timeless, beyond physicality and cannot be endangered.
23. Welcoming the wind and rain
If one would make few speech and stay natural, wind will not blown for whole morning, and rain will not last for whole day.
What is like this? The sky and earth.
If even the sky and earth could not last (stay in a state) forever, what would be the case for man?
Therefore for those who pursue the Dao,
Stay in the Dao when the Dao approaches;
Stay in virtue when virtue appears;
Stay in lost when lost occurs.
Those who stay in the Dao, can welcome the Dao;
Those who stay in virtue, can welcome virtue;
Those who stay in lost, can welcome lost.
Only when credibility is lacking, will it be disbelieved.
25. The big fours
There is existence prior to heaven and earth being born.
Quiet and still, independent and unchanging, rotating without end, it is the mother of the world.
I don’t know its name, name it as Dao, and remotely name it as Big.
Big and therefore everlasting, everlasting and therefore far-reaching, far-reaching and therefore returning (to its source).
Therefore Dao is Big, Heaven is Big, Earth is Big, and King (Man) is also Big.
These are the four Big in this universe, and King (Man) is one of them.
Man follows the Earth, Earth follows the Heaven, Heaven follows the Dao, and Dao follows its own.
26. Fallacy of lightness
Weight is the root of lightness, stillness is the ruler of recklessness.
Therefore the Sage at all times stay centered at the weighted wagon.
Although in luxury and glamour, (he) remain transcended and nonattached.
How could the lord of the world rule with a light attitude?
Lightness will cost one’s foundation, recklessness will cost one’s lordship.
27. Interdependency of Sage vs. Layman
Those who master travelling leave no trace,
those who master talking speaks no fault;
those who master counting need no tool;
those who master locking need no extra shuts;
those who master tieing needs no rope.
Sages master saving people, and therefore no one is unsaved;
(Sages) master saving thing, and therefore nothing is unsaved.
This is called inner-wisdom.
Therefore Sage is the teacher of the layman; layman is the asset of the Sage.
When teacher is not respected, or asset not treasured, one falls into great confusion despite of being intelligent. This is key.
28. Qualities of the Dao: infant, unmanifest, simple, whole
Know the masculine, but abide in the feminine, be the most humble of the world.
The most humble always remains with virtue, and eventually return to infant.
Know white, but abide in black, be the model of the world.
The model of the world always aligns with virtue, and eventually returns to the unmanifest.
Know honour, but abide in insult, be the valley (vassel) of the world.
The valley of the world always fills with virtue, and eventually returns to simpleness.
When simpleness is dispersed it manifests as forms,
When sage use it (simpleness) and he becomes the lord of the officers,
therefore great system does not segregate.
29. Proper way/attitude to face the world
When one attempts to manipulate the world, I see him fails.
The world is holy, it cannot be manipulated, whose attempt to manipulate it, fail; whose attempt to rule it, lost it.
Since things may lead or follow; be warm or cold; be strong or weak; be upright or fall.
Therefore sages let go of (man-made) extreme, luxury, and excess.
32. Dao and the world: unnamed vs. the named
Dao does not have a name. It can not be owned or controlled.
When one abides in it, all things will follow.ap
Dew falls under the combined effect of heaven and earth,
people cannot control it and it has its own balance.
In the beginning name arise, when names arise, people know their limits,
knowing the limits and therefore can last.
Dao when manifest as the world, is like valley carrying the rivers and seas.
33. Transcending oneself as the pathway towards wisdom and longevity
Those who understand others is wise, those who understand oneself is enlightened.
Those who conquer others has force, whose who conquer oneself is strong.
Those who content is rich.
Those who preserve in advancing has will.
Those who stay with their root can last.
Life beyond death is real longevity.