Dao De Jing
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Verse Fourteen


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Wed Dec 12, 2007

Verse Fourteen

from Jonathan Star's 2001 version

Eyes look but cannot see it
Ears listen but cannot hear it
Hands grasp but cannot touch it
Beyond the senses lies the great Unity € invisible, inaudible, intangible
What rises up appears bright
What settles down appears dark
Yet there is neither darkness nor light just an unbroken dance of shadows
From nothingness to fullness and back again to nothingness
This formless form
This imageless image cannot be grasped by mind or might
Try to face it
In what place will you stand?
Try to follow it
To what place will you go?
Know That which is beyond all beginnings and you will know everything here and now
Know everything in this moment and you will know the Eternal Tao

from Witter Bynner's 1944 version

What we look for beyond seeing
And call the unseen,
Listen for beyond hearing
And call the unheard,
Grasp for beyond reaching
And call the withheld,
Merge beyond understanding
In a oneness
Which does not merely rise and give light,
Does not merely set and leave darkness,
But forever sends forth a succession of living things as mysterious
As the unbegotten existence to which they return.
That is why men have called them empty phenomena,
Meaningless images,
In a mirage
With no face to meet,
No back to follow.
Yet one who is anciently aware of existence
Is master of every moment,
Feels no break since time beyond time
In the way life flows.

from Diane Morgan's 2003 version

We look at it, but we see nothing.
Call it invisible.
We listen to it, but we hear nothing.
Call it inaudible.
We clutch at it, but it slips away.
Call it intangible.

Invisible, Inaudible, Intangible€
The One Unfathomable.

Its upper side is not bathed in sunlight,
Nor its lower side drowned in shadow.
It flows between being and nonbeing,
Then again returns.
This is the form of the Formless,
The image of the Imageless.
Call it Unnamable.

Encounter it€you find no face.
Follow it€you reach no end.

Inconceivably ancient,
Alive with potential,

The Tao unwinds.


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Sun Dec 16, 2007

Stated in the negative: Looked for and not seen.
Stated in the positive: Looked for and Naught seen.

Encounter it€you find no face.
Follow it€you reach no end.

No face? Do the translators know what this means? Do they know it's not a metaphor? It doesn't matter. We know, and we see. That's enough. And if we get unexpected help and reminders in this way, who's to say it's purely random? No one finds a face. It's no wonder they let it slip out sometimes.

Jim


From: simon
Posted: Tue Dec 18, 2007

Hi Jim,
Funny, I never noticed the "no face" reference before.
So blatantly obvious yet easy to miss, (which could almost be a name for the Tao!)

And I agree about the
Quote:
"unexpected help and reminders in this way, who's to say it's purely random?"

Curious idea in Witter Bynner's 1944 version
Quote:
Yet one who is anciently aware of existence
Is master of every moment,
Feels no break since time beyond time
In the way life flows.

Suggests continued seeing (without distraction) * to me: a sort of "equal power to every hour"...
Perhaps due to a lapse of attention on my part that led to an accident on the motobike, but "sustained seeing" (if i may put it that way) is an interesting exercise...

(*Not something that can be done, more an attribute of the Tao, if not, the world would be full of people falling off sidewalks and walking into lamposts.)

Anyway, happy everything, everyone
simon


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Tue Dec 18, 2007

Hi Simon,

I like that idea. Seeing is sustained even when we are not consciously aware of it. Conscious recognition of it is wonderfully satisfying, and the satisfaction continues even when our attention is on other things. It may be in the background, but it's always present.

This verse suggests that it's not just seeing that has its base in the void, the formless form. All the senses do. We can hear the inaudible and tough the intangible.

Try to face it
In what place will you stand?

Jim


From: simon
Posted: Wed Dec 19, 2007

Hi Jim,
Yes, quite!
With a big grin!

But where can "I" stand?

Yours
simon


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