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Verse Forty Four


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Thu Aug 21, 2008

Verse Forty Four
Brian Browne Walker, 1996

Which is more precious, fame or health?
Which is more valuable, health or wealth?
Which is more harmful, winning or losing?

The more excessive your love,
the greater your suffering.
The larger your hoard,
the heavier your losses.

Knowing what is enough is freedom.
Knowing when to stop is safety.
Practice these, and you€ll endure.

Verse Forty Four
Ursula Le Guin, 1997

Which is nearer,
name or self?
Which is dearer,
self or wealth?
Which gives more pain,
loss or gain?

All you grasp will be thrown away.
All you hoard will be utterly lost.

Contentment keeps disgrace away.
Restraint keeps you out of danger
so you can on for a long, long time.

Verse Forty Four
Robert Henricks, 1989

Fame or your health€which is more dear?
Your health or possessions€which is worth more?
Gain or loss€in which is there harm?
If your desires are great, you€re bound to be extravagant;
If you store much away, you€re bound to lose a great deal.
Therefore, if you know contentment, you€ll not be disgraced.
If you know when to stop, you€ll suffer no harm.
And in this way you can last a very long time.


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Thu Aug 21, 2008

I see this verse as about simplicity and satisfaction. It€s a warning against the false values of excess fame and wealth and success. It shows how success fails and leads to disgrace. To keep it involves much struggle. To have it creates envy and animosity in others. It can ruin your health. It can keep you in isolation.

On the other hand, being content with just what you need causes none of these problems. Enough is enough. But I think the verse goes deeper. Enough is more than enough. Within pointing range, we already have the ultimate simplicity, the space that makes all things possible. We are this simple presence already. No need even to point. I find great satisfaction (contentment) in this. Having enough to live a comfortable life is important. But having it All, seeing and being it All, makes us rich beyond measure. And doesn€t contentment and satisfaction naturally follow? Fame or health (wholeness), which leads to contentment? You can never get enough fame or wealth. There€s always more. But wholeness comes all at once in full measure. Seeing we are whole and complete can€t be topped. We can stop with that. There€s nothing more to get. We can relax, be content, and do what we do. And whatever we do from this vision has to be done better than what we would do from a place of need. Finding (seeing) the place of no need is the first and last step on the Way. After that, doin€ what comes naturally is the only guide we need. Verse 25 ends by saying that Tao follows its own nature, its own spontaneity. We can do the same.

Jim


From: Janet
Posted: Sat Aug 23, 2008

hi jim,

i agree with you, especially about contentment. but, i would like to point out, it is contentment with "whatever" appears. i mention it, because there was something i felt within this verse that didn't particularly sit well with me. it is the last two sentences of the three versions of the verse that you provided. i think it may give out an idea or impression that is not necessarily true.

"Knowing when to stop is safety.
Practice these, and you€ll endure."

"Restraint keeps you out of danger
so you can on for a long, long time."

"If you know when to stop, you€ll suffer no harm.
And in this way you can last a very long time."

to me, living out of seeing/tao is about allowing for everything.

what is here to stop or restrain from? what does it have to do with how long someone will last, endure, or go on? who's checking?

living from seeing/tao is not that only good will come to you. a lot of religions give the same impression. living from seeing/tao is capacity for every thing. it is content with accepting it all. here is nothing to restrain or stop.

well, anyway, thats all i have to say about that.

love,
janet


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Mon Aug 25, 2008

Hi Janet,

Contentment keeps disgrace away.
Restraint keeps you out of danger
so you can on for a long, long time.

Is this better?

Contentment can keep away disgrace.
Restraint can ward off danger
so you can on for a long, long time.

I don€t think it€s meant to be a guarantee--just a tendency. Contentment tends to keep away disgrace.

What do you think?

Love,
Jim


From: Janet
Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 11:41 pm

hi jim,

i think you're right. i was reading too much into it. i think it was a feeling in the moment. it may not have been the verse at all.

feeling content or satisfied is always a good starting point. then, i suppose, there isn't anything that can 'rock' the boat.

i just really wanted to be an 'example' for all of you to see how it functions!

love,
janet


From: simon
Posted: Fri Aug 29, 2008

Hi All,
I'm intrigued by Ursula Le Guin's version
Quote:
Which is nearer,
name or self?
Which is dearer,
self or wealth?

She alone uses the word "self"...
I don't know if the 'translation' is accurate, but the sense rings true ...

"Which is nearer, name or Self?"
good question for tube experiments, no?!
Happy namelessness!
simon


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