Dao De Jing
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Verse Twenty One


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Sun Feb 17, 2008

Verse Twenty One
Wing-Tsit Chan, 1963

The all-embracing quality of the great virtue follows alone from the Tao.
The thing that is called Tao is eluding and vague.
Vague and eluding, there is in it the form.
Eluding and vague, in it are things.
Deep and obscure, in it is the essence.
The essence is very real; in it are evidences.

From the time of old until now, its name (manifestations) ever remains.
By which we may see the beginning of all things.
How do I know that the beginning of all things are so?
Through this (Tao).

Verse Twenty One
John R. Mabry

The only virtue worth having is that of following the Tao,
and the only thing you can say about the Tao,
Is that it is elusive and evasive.
It is elusive and evasive, yet it can be observed.
It is evasive and elusive, yet it does manifest itself.
It is dim and dark, yet its essence can be grasped.
Its essence is unquestionably genuine. You can put your faith in it.
From the beginning of time until the present,
Its Name has remained.
In it one can see All of Creation.
How do I know where All of Creation comes from?
I know the Tao!

Verse Twenty One
Witter Bynner, 1944

The surest test if a man be sane
Is if he accepts life whole, as it is,
Without needing by measure or touch to understand
The measureless untouchable source
Of its images,
The measureless untouchable source
Of its substances,
The source which, while it appears dark emptiness,
Brims with a quick force
Farthest away
And yet nearest at hand
From oldest time unto this day,
Charging its images with origin:
What more need I know of the origin
Than this?


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2008

This is the second chapter that uses the first person. It ends with the question: How do I know the origin? Because I know the Tao.

This is another verse where the asymmetrical design of Presence (or Tao) shows up. The near side of the Tube is elusive and evasive, dim and dark. Yet it contains things, images, forms, evidences. And it's the original rather than a manifestation. I like that Mabry says it can be observed. It seems like some translations almost say that it's obvious, if not embarrassingly obvious, and self-evident.

My favorite translation is still Witter Bynner's. In this verse he talks about accepting life whole. And who sees the wholeness better than headless seers. I know many others experience the wholeness of present time living, but our way is so direct and quick and easy!

Jim


From: simon
Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2008

Quote:
and the only thing you can say about the Tao,
Is that it is elusive and evasive.

This elusive quality is almost a challenge to the desire to "organise" or "name" things - and thus continue in the habitual way... It can't be summed up in a phrase, filed and forgotten... (perhaps a male mental habit - others may confirm or not!) A problem to some I've shared experiments with...

But it IS impossible to grasp, which is a real liberation!

The 'name' idea in 2 of the translations stumped me for a while: but today it feels differently - the name being linked to the desire or memory that calls the attention back to itself from "overthinking" or forgetfulness...
I wonder what the original (translated as 'name' or 'manifestations') is?

The last line of Chan's translation suggests that it is the Tao that knows... rather than a seperate 'knower'

Strange affirmation
Quote:
How do I know the origin? Because I know the Tao.
But it stands. Isn't there somewhere here the idea of knowing the whole world without leaving the room?

Yes, how many 'consciousnesses' can be found in the tube!
(answers please, on an uncarved block...!)
Simon


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2008

"How do I know the origin? Because I know the Tao."

Hi Simon,

Because I know the Tao is just two words in the Chinese€by This. Most translators assume This means the Tao. But This is a good word in itself for seers. This as opposed to that. This side of the Tube versus that side. On page 58 of the Religions of the World, Douglas says "Most significant of all, it is This and not That. In other words, it is right here. It is What one really is, one's own True Nature as well as the Nature of Things."

Jim


From: Luc
Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2008

Quote:But This is a good word in itself for seers.

That's funny, Jim : when I read this, it reminds me of how I find myself talking about This and pointing backwards, to where others see my head.
And that's where I experience This, the Void that contains the world, the Tao out of which all things arise.

So : how do I know the origin ? By This (point backwards !). Sounds like a perfect translation to me !

Luc


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