Dao De Jing
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Verse Forty One


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Sat Jul 26, 2008

Verse Forty One
The Wandering Taoist

When the great man learns the Way,
he follows it with diligence;
When the common man learns the Way,
he follows it on occasion;
When the mean man learns the Way,
he laughs out loud;
Those who do not laugh, do not learn at all.

Therefore it is said:
Who understands the Way seems foolish;
Who progresses on the Way seems to fail;
Who follows the Way seems to wander.

For the finest harmony appears plain;
The brightest truth appears coloured;
The richest character appears incomplete;
The bravest heart appears meek;
The simplest nature appears inconstant.

The square, perfected, has no corner;
Music, perfected, has no melody;
Love, perfected, has no climax;
Art, perfected, has no meaning.

The Way can be neither sensed nor known:
It transmits sensation and transcends knowledge.

Verse Forty One
Gia-Fu Feng & Jane English, 1972

The wise student hears of the Tao and practices it diligently.
The average student hears of the Tao and gives it thought now and again.
The foolish student hears of the Tao and laughs aloud.
If there were no laughter, the Tao would not be what it is.
Hence it is said:
The bright path seems dim;
Going forward seems like retreat;
The easy way seems hard;
The highest Virtue seems empty;
Great purity seems sullied;
A wealth of Virtue seems inadequate;
The strength of Virtue seems frail;
Real Virtue seems unreal;
The perfect square has no corners;
Great talents ripen late;
The highest notes are hard to hear;
The greatest form has no shape;
The Tao is hidden and without name.
The Tao alone nourishes and brings everything to fulfillment.

Verse Forty One
Wing-Tsit Chan, 1963

When the highest type of men hear Tao,
They diligently practice it.
When the average type of men hear Tao,
They half believe in it.
When the lowest type of men hear Tao,
They laugh heartily at it.
If they did not laugh at it, it would not be Tao.
Therefore there is the established saying:
The Tao which is bright appears to be dark.
The Tao which goes forward appears to fall backward.
The Tao which is level appears uneven.
Great virtue appears like a valley (hollow).
Great purity appears like disgrace.
Far-reaching virtue appears as if insufficient.
Solid virtue appears as if unsteady.
True substance appears to be changeable.
The great square has no corners.
The great implement (or talent) is slow to finish (or mature).
Great music sounds faint.
Great form has no shape.
Tao is hidden and nameless.
Yet it is Tao alone that skillfully provides for all and brings them to perfection.


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Sat Jul 26, 2008

This reminds me of Douglas saying that what's on the near side is in every way opposite what's on the far side. "The bright path seems dim." Many of the opposites mentioned by the translators would seem to apply to the grand opposites shown by the experiments.

"The bravest heart appears meek." This reminds me of Douglas saying that it takes courage to go by what you see. "Have the courage to look." "Don't be chicken-hearted." It's a bravery that can appear meek. It's not in-your-face.

As for dividing people into three grades, I'll leave that for Janet to write about first. I know she has opinions on that subject.

All for now,
Jim


From: Janet
Posted: Sun Jul 27, 2008

Verse Forty One
Wing-Tsit Chan, 1963

When the highest type of men hear Tao,
They diligently practice it.
When the average type of men hear Tao,
They half believe in it.
When the lowest type of men hear Tao,
They laugh heartily at it.
If they did not laugh at it, it would not be Tao.

hi jim,

what is apparent to me, is the dichotomies that, again, complement, to make whole.

if these are persons with separate distinctions, i can only see that i am all of them, and no-body. the persons of distinction, seem to point at 'stages' of man developing (from lowest to highest), when one realizes that its never been anything but tao. the dichotomies of tao are perceived in man, too. it makes one laugh (lowest, again?) to realize it. you can't help it. the clip i used of the current verse, tells me, that where i begin, i must also return. "If they did not laugh at it, it would not be Tao".

as tao would have it, i am the lowest, average, highest, and no-thing at all.

now, if that ain't funny, then tell me WHAT IS (and i'll laugh, again).

i found this current verse amusing and find humor in the writing.

but, thats just my take.

love,
janet


From: simon
Posted: Mon Jul 28, 2008

Hi All
As regards the three "types": this is about right whenever I try sharing seeing or the experiments with people - never had a 100% success rate - whatever THAT is supposed to mean!. Not everyone is interested all the time... Mind you, I find the same proportion when teaching / lecturing!
And my experience concords with yours, Janet (if I read you right)... Still, perhaps that is no surprise... what comes/goes under the name of "I" is an incredibly elastic affair - from minuscule to huge in the blink of an eye!

This strikes me as a rich verse:
Quote:
The bright path seems dim;

Well, yes, no personal initiative, no 'knowing what one is doing'...

Quote:
Going forward seems like retreat;

No point in pushing the river...
Quote:
The easy way seems hard;

Seems, yet is there anything 'easier' than "seeing"?

Quote:
The highest Virtue seems empty;
Great purity seems sullied;

Yes, are there any barriers to exclude anything at all?

What do others find?
Love to all
Simon


From: Luc
Posted: Mon Jul 28, 2008

Quote: The bright path seems dim;

Remembers me of sharing Seeing with someone and discovering that I cannot explain how bright it is for me. Some people look a bit puzzled, say 'oh yes' and start talking about something else. 'My' bright path apparently doesn't appeal to them, seems dim.

Quote: If they did not laugh at it, it would not be Tao

Strange phrase, isn't it ? Think you'te right, Janet (if I understand you right) : we start and end by laughing. First laughing at it, overlooking it, then getting involved, maybe trying very hard, than the finger turns and we find it and laugh.

Luc


From: Janet
Posted: Thu Aug 07, 2008

Quote: And my experience concords with yours, Janet (if I read you right)... Still, perhaps that is no surprise... what comes/goes under the name of "I" is an incredibly elastic affair - from minuscule to huge in the blink of an eye!

Quote: Think you'te right, Janet (if I understand you right) : we start and end by laughing. First laughing at it, overlooking it, then getting involved, maybe trying very hard, than the finger turns and we find it and laugh.

hi simon and luc,

sorry to get back to you so late. hadn't had the chance to read these responses. but, anyway, yes! you both understand what i mean. both of you said what i meant, very well. .... following it just right.

it was a wonderful verse, imo. not only for steady observation, as we are all doing, but for putting seriousness aside for a moment to laugh at it, laugh at everything, and laugh at ourselves.

i love that.

love,
janet


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