Aaron

[TTC Study] Chapter 3 of the Tao Teh Ching

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Hello folks,

 

I'm including three different translations now, the Wu, Feng/English, and Henricks translations, since those are the three that I have access to that keep popping up throughout discussion. I have read all three, but I will wait for others to comment before I jump in.

 

(Translated by John C. H. Wu)

 

By not exalting the talented you will cause the people

to cease from rivalry and contention.

By not prizing goods hard to get, you will cause the

people to cease from robbing and stealing.

By not displaying what is desirable, you will cause the

people's hearts to remain undisturbed.

 

Therefore, the Sage's way of governing begins by

 

Emptying the heart of desires,

Filling the belly with food,

Weakening the ambitions,

Toughening the bones.

 

In this way he will cause the people to remain without

knowledge and without desire, and prevent the

knowing ones from any ado.

Practice Non-Ado, and everything will be in order.

 

 

 

 

(Translated by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English)

 

Not exalting the gifted prevents quarreling.

Not collecting treasures prevents stealing.

Not seeing desirable things prevents confusion of the heart.

The wise therefore rule by emptying hearts and stuffing bellies, by weakening ambitions and strengthening bones.

If men lack knowledge and desire, then clever people will not try to interfere.

If nothing is done, then all will be well.

 

 

 

 

(Translated by Robert Henricks- Note this translation is of an older version of the Tao Teh Ching and may differ from other translations)

 

1. By not elevating the worthy, you bring it about that people will not compete.

2. By not valuing goods that are hard to obtain, you bring it about that people will not act like thieves.

3. By not displaying the desirable you bring it about that people will not be confused.

 

4. Therefore, in the government of the Sage:

5. He empties their minds,

6. And fills their bellies.

7. Weakens their ambition,

8. And strengthens their bones.

 

9. He constantly causes the people to be without knowledge and without desires.

10. If he can bring it about that those with knowledge simply do not dare to act,

11. Then there is nothing that will not be in order.

 

 

----------------

 

Aaron

Edited by Twinner

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My only comment at the moment is to this: ... causes the people to be without knowledge ...

 

It took me a long time to get a handle on this concept. When I first read it many years ago the Dark Ages of Europe come to mind where the Church tried everything in its power to keep the people ignorant. And they were quite successful for what? three hundred years?

 

But later, after reading Chuang Tzu, I realized that there is a difference between the knowledge that Lao Tzu speaks to and the wisdom of living a simple life.

 

Knowledge all too often leads to desires. Desires of things that others place a high value on. With many desires one will never find lasting contentment.

 

Yes, we should obtain knowledge, I think. But knowledge of the processes of nature so that this knowledge will lead to wisdom that we can use to guide us through our life with as few problems as possible.

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Hey guys, i like John C. H. Wu's translation of this chapter as well. This chapter seems to speak about the dualities of the world, and by pursuing one you are causing the other. Free yourself and others of the concept so you can act as the fulcrum of the dualities.

 

Marblehead- I have always seemed to struggle understanding the difference between knowledge and wisdom. How can gaining knowledge lead to the wisdom we can use in our life. I dunno if you could enlighten me on this subject on a little i would really appreciate it, because i think i am more knowledgeable than wise

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Marblehead- I have always seemed to struggle understanding the difference between knowledge and wisdom. How can gaining knowledge lead to the wisdom we can use in our life. I dunno if you could enlighten me on this subject on a little i would really appreciate it, because i think i am more knowledgeable than wise

 

I'll start a thread on this topic so to not interfer with this thread.

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This is off the top of my head - for discussion.

 

OK without watering down the words on meaning of this difficult section I would say this.

 

Imagine you are managing a group of people. Some of them are talented and resourceful, others are average performers and some are quite useless. What do you do to get the most out of everyone?

 

1) Don't heap too much praise on the best because the others will get resentful and cause trouble.

 

2) Don't make the rewards of work too distant and unachievable for the less good because they might get desperate and try to take what they are not entitled to.

 

3) Don't flaunt what you've got because it will upset people when they would otherwise be happy in their work.

 

Is this manipulation? or just common sense?

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Is this manipulation? or just common sense?

 

I call it common sense but it has been said that common sense isn't as common as one would ofttimes believe.

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Hello people,

 

A few comments...

 

The whole knowledge vs wisdom thing is tricky, especially in regards to the Tao Teh Ching. I'm glad a new thread was made for this, since I think it really does deserve some more exploration.

 

Apech,

 

I liked your description very much, I think it was an excellent example of the principles at work.

 

Dawei,

 

I certainly hope you keep informing us of the differences between the older texts and the received text, it's interesting stuff, for sure. I look forward to learning more about it. I read what you've had to say today, but I want to take some time to digest it before I make any comments.

 

My instintcual response is that Confucius infiltrated the Wang Bi edition.

 

Since the Confucius and Wang Bi topic is really something that would be best discussed on its own, I think what we should explore here is how different is the Henricks (and Guodian) version of the Tao Teh Ching from the Wu and Feng? In that regard, I think you make some good arguments regarding how the text should be interpreted. Thanks for taking the time to explain it to us.

 

Aaron

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Hey Twinner,

 

I think the "Confucian influence" is somewhat controversial since 'influences' exists from time-past to time-future. I don't want to side track too much, but there is great irony in the fact that the DDJ received text version embraced around the world was written by a Confucian, Wang Bi. :D

 

But I think for studying these DDJ manuscripts and not getting caught up in what "Daoism" evolved into later may be avoided for our general purposes... well, at least, we'll see if that's the case or not.

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Hello folks,

 

I'm including three different translations now, the Wu, Feng/English, and Henricks translations, since those are the three that I have access to that keep popping up throughout discussion. I have read all three, but I will wait for others to comment before I jump in.

 

(Translated by John C. H. Wu)

 

By not exalting the talented you will cause the people

to cease from rivalry and contention.

By not prizing goods hard to get, you will cause the

people to cease from robbing and stealing.

By not displaying what is desirable, you will cause the

people's hearts to remain undisturbed.

 

Therefore, the Sage's way of governing begins by

 

Emptying the heart of desires,

Filling the belly with food,

Weakening the ambitions,

Toughening the bones.

 

In this way he will cause the people to remain without

knowledge and without desire, and prevent the

knowing ones from any ado.

Practice Non-Ado, and everything will be in order.

 

 

 

 

(Translated by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English)

 

Not exalting the gifted prevents quarreling.

Not collecting treasures prevents stealing.

Not seeing desirable things prevents confusion of the heart.

The wise therefore rule by emptying hearts and stuffing bellies, by weakening ambitions and strengthening bones.

If men lack knowledge and desire, then clever people will not try to interfere.

If nothing is done, then all will be well.

 

 

 

 

(Translated by Robert Henricks- Note this translation is of an older version of the Tao Teh Ching and may differ from other translations)

 

1. By not elevating the worthy, you bring it about that people will not compete.

2. By not valuing goods that are hard to obtain, you bring it about that people will not act like thieves.

3. By not displaying the desirable you bring it about that people will not be confused.

 

4. Therefore, in the government of the Sage:

5. He empties their minds,

6. And fills their bellies.

7. Weakens their ambition,

8. And strengthens their bones.

 

9. He constantly causes the people to be without knowledge and without desires.

10. If he can bring it about that those with knowledge simply do not dare to act,

11. Then there is nothing that will not be in order.

 

 

----------------

 

Aaron

 

 

From DC Lau's translation: Copyright 1963

 

8. Not to honor men of words will keep the people from contention; not to value goods which are hard to come by will keep them from theft; not to display what is desirable will keep them from being userled of mind.

 

9. Therefore in governing the people, the sage empties their minds but fills their bellies, weakens their wiils but strengthens their bones. He always keeps them innocent of knowledge and free from desire, and ensures that the clever never dare to act.

 

10. Do that which consists in taking no action and order will prevail.

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Hey Twinner,

 

I think the "Confucian influence" is somewhat controversial since 'influences' exists from time-past to time-future. I don't want to side track too much, but there is great irony in the fact that the DDJ received text version embraced around the world was written by a Confucian, Wang Bi. :D

 

But I think for studying these DDJ manuscripts and not getting caught up in what "Daoism" evolved into later may be avoided for our general purposes... well, at least, we'll see if that's the case or not.

 

I've read Richard John Lynn's translations of both DDC and I Ching both of which include Wang Bi's own writing e.g. introduction to Loazi and also his biography. Although he was a scholar living at a time when Confucian thinking was prevalent to say he was 'a Confucian' is misleading. It is clear that he embraced and understood the Tao.

 

I agree it is good to go back to source texts for some pure or original messages but I don't agree that you can ignore what Taoism became (if you like) or discount Wang Bi's commentaries as not being relevant to the core truths. Wang Bi achieved a lot in his short life and was actually attacked by Fan Ning (a strict Confucian advocate) for what he regarded as rampant nihilism and libertinism.

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I've read Richard John Lynn's translations of both DDC and I Ching both of which include Wang Bi's own writing e.g. introduction to Loazi and also his biography. Although he was a scholar living at a time when Confucian thinking was prevalent to say he was 'a Confucian' is misleading. It is clear that he embraced and understood the Tao.

 

I agree it is good to go back to source texts for some pure or original messages but I don't agree that you can ignore what Taoism became (if you like) or discount Wang Bi's commentaries as not being relevant to the core truths. Wang Bi achieved a lot in his short life and was actually attacked by Fan Ning (a strict Confucian advocate) for what he regarded as rampant nihilism and libertinism.

 

Twinner and I have had this discussion before, so I am joking a little bit but I did say influences cannot be avoided. I really meant not to get side tracked too much with what was purely confucian or buddhist interjection to the meaning of what Lao Zi may of meant back in 300 B.C. When we discuss the changes in characters or change in emphasis we see, I think we'll find it unavoidable. For Wang Bi, he strongly impacted many of the ideas we think are fundamental to the text.

 

I keep Lynn's and Rudolf Wagner's translations of Wang Bi's commentary close by and they are indispensable.

 

Not sure if the following should get moved to the general thread but here is some background and links for further study:

 

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

http://www.iep.utm.edu/wangbi/

"As a self-identified Confucian, Wang Bi wanted to create an understanding of Daoism that was consistent with Confucianism but which did not fall into what he considered to be the errors of then-popular Daoist sectarian groups.

 

A Confucian rather than a sectarian Daoist, Wang Bi wanted to create an understanding of Daoism that was consistent with Confucianism but which did not fall into what he considered to be the errors of the Celestial Masters and their popular religious practices. He understood his main task to be the restoration of order and a sense of direction to Chinese society after the turbulent final years of the Han. He offered the ideal of establishing the “true way” (zhendao) as the solution. Undoubtedly, his ultimate goal was to examine the mysterious knowledge of creation and translate it into a viable political and social program."

 

He would be more appropriately called a "Neo-Daoist". But as Fung Yu-Lan says in his A Short History of Chinese Philosophy: "The Neo-Taoist, despite their Taoism, Consider Confucius to be even greater than Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu. Confucius, they maintained, did not speak against forgetfulness, because he had already learned that he had forgotten that he had learned to forget. Nor did he speak of absence of desire, because he had already reached the stage of lacking any desire to be without desire".

 

Wang Bi, when asked why "Wu" was so fundamental a principle said: "The Sage [Confucius] identified himself with WU [non-being] and realized it could not be made the subject of instruction, with the result with the result that they he felt compelled to deal only with YU [being]. But Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu had not yet completely left the sphere of YU [non-being], with the result that they spoke constantly of their deficiencies".

 

And Wing-Tsit Chan says in his equally well known work, A source book in Chinese philosophy: These schools of thought went "beyond phenomena to find reality beyond space and time. They found this in the non-being of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu but gave it a new meaning. Hence, these schools are called by modern scholars Neo-Taoism. But these philosophers are not exclusively Taoistic. Like philosophers of the Han, they are syncretic. While they are Taoistic in their metaphysics, they are Confucian in their social and political philosophy."

 

"Wang Pi went beyond the realms of names and forms to ultimate reality, namely original non-being. According to his theory which is developed in his commentary on the Lao Tzu, original non-being transcends all distinctions and descriptions. It is the pure being, the original substance, and the one in which substance and function are identified... it is remarkable that in a time of disunity and confusion, he should insist on a united system based on one fundamental reality, original non-being"

 

For more on Neo-Daoism, Wang Bi, and the XuanXue movement he is often associated with:

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/neo-taoism/

Edited by dawei

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Twinner and I have had this discussion before, so I am joking a little bit but I did say influences cannot be avoided. I really meant not to get side tracked too much with what was purely confucian or buddhist interjection to the meaning of what Lao Zi may of meant back in 300 B.C. When we discuss the changes in characters or change in emphasis we see, I think we'll find it unavoidable. For Wang Bi, he strongly impacted many of the ideas we think are fundamental to the text.

 

<snip>

 

Ok excellent .... thanks for those links - I see where you are coming from now.

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Ok excellent .... thanks for those links - I see where you are coming from now.

When I said we had discussed this before, Twinner knows my position is that there are lots of external influences. So I was trying to keep myself in check by not wanting to go there without cause [yet] B)

 

Your point is well taken, so some general comments or background on Wang Bi is probably best. I'm glad you called that out. Thanks for giving me that cause. :D

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My only comment at the moment is to this: ... causes the people to be without knowledge ...

 

It took me a long time to get a handle on this concept. When I first read it many years ago the Dark Ages of Europe come to mind where the Church tried everything in its power to keep the people ignorant. And they were quite successful for what? three hundred years?

 

But later, after reading Chuang Tzu, I realized that there is a difference between the knowledge that Lao Tzu speaks to and the wisdom of living a simple life.

 

Knowledge all too often leads to desires. Desires of things that others place a high value on. With many desires one will never find lasting contentment.

 

Yes, we should obtain knowledge, I think. But knowledge of the processes of nature so that this knowledge will lead to wisdom that we can use to guide us through our life with as few problems as possible.

Yeah, I guess this must happen to most people who read "causes the people to be without knowledge". I don't like it at all.

 

--------------------

 

Without ideals, there is no striving.


Without held treasures, there is no theft.


Without desired visions, there's nothing lacking.

 

Thus...


The Master departs from desires, and is fulfilled.


Curbs enthusiasm, and stays poised.

 

He uproots fixed beliefs.

Disrobes glorified ideas.

 

With not a thing to prove,


things are ordered.

 

www.openwisdom.org/tao-te-ching/#3

 

--------------------

 

I think the idea of governing others is brought to this chapter by the reader. A method of governing others (if that's what you happen to be doing) does seem to follow from what's written, but that's only one application. This chapter makes more sense as a method to apply universally - being practical, and staying empirical about what we hold up as truth and why we hold it to be so.

 

And I think... I think 'strengthening bones' and 'filling bellies' just might be metaphorical... ^_^

Edited by majc

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Hi Majc,

 

I like that translation you presented. Seems to be more in line with reality.

 

Strengthening bones, etc, I think is referring to paying attention to a person's health rather than what color of clothes a person is wearing on a particular day.

 

And I do agree that by lessening our desires we become much more open for peace and contentment to enter our inner essence.

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From DC Lau's translation: Copyright 1963

 

10. Do that which consists in taking no action and order will prevail.

 

The most important sentence (to me) in the entire book:

#10, Chapter 3: "Do that which consists in taking no action and order will prevail."

 

To me this says that the true order of things lays in nature and, as such; no action is the ultimate action, as it relies upon simply revealing the perfect order that is within nature herself AKA: Yin. It is Wei Wu Wei..

The Action (Wei) of No(Wu) Action(Wei).

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This is off the top of my head - for discussion.

 

OK without watering down the words on meaning of this difficult section I would say this.

 

Imagine you are managing a group of people. .....Is this manipulation? or just common sense?

this is thinking in the right direction but not close enough. managing a team is quite different from managing a totalitarian state.

 

and make no mistake this is what DDJ is all about. the rest of the commenters just refuse to see this obvious fact.

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Wei-Wu-Wei

 

Yes, this is a hallmark contradictory compliment. Like the 'shapeless shape' or the 'formless form'. But when the text says 'actionless action', there is an entire movement of thought that arises.

 

The conundrum is extensively explored here:

 

Wei-wu-wei: Nondual action

By David Loy

 

Philosophy East and West

Vol. 35, No. 1 (January 1985)

http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-PHIL/loy3.htm

 

"The main problem with understanding wei-wu-wei is that it is a genuine paradox: the union of two contradictory concepts -- action ("...nothing remains undone") and nonaction ("nothing is done..."). The resolution of this paradox must somehow combine both concepts, but how this can be anything other than a contradiction in terms is difficult to understand. So it is not surprising that some scholars have concluded that it is an unresolvable contradiction."

 

"I think that the problem is rather that, because Creel here is wholly governed by logic, he misses the fact that the paradox is resolved by a particular experience -- the realization of Tao -- which cannot be understood so logically. As with the Vedāntic realization of Brahman and the Buddhist attainment of nirvāṇa, this experience is nondual in the sense that there is no differentiation between subject and object, between self and world. The implication of this for action is that there is no longer any bifurcation between an agent, the self that is believed to do the action, and the objective action that is done. As usually understood, "action" requires an agent that is active; "nonaction" implies a subject that is passive, which does nothing and/or yields. The "action of non-action" occurs when there is no "I" to be either active or passive, which is an experience that can be expressed only paradoxically. The simpler interpretations of wu-wei as noninterference and yielding view not-acting as a kind of action; nondual action reverses this and sees nonaction -- that which does not change -- in the action."

Edited by dawei

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不尚賢,使民不爭;不貴難得之貨,使民不為盜;不見可欲,使心不亂。是以聖人之治,虛其心,實其腹,弱其志,強其骨。常使民無知無欲。使夫1知者不敢為也。為無為,則無不治。

Dao De Jing: (Keeping the people at rest)

Not to value and employ men of superior ability is the way to keep the people from rivalry among themselves; not to prize articles which are difficult to procure is the way to keep them from becoming thieves; not to show them what is likely to excite their desires is the way to keep their minds from disorder. Therefore the sage, in the exercise of his government, empties their minds, fills their bellies, weakens their wills, and strengthens their bones. He constantly (tries to) keep them without knowledge and without desire, and where there are those who have knowledge, to keep them from presuming to act (on it). When there is this abstinence from action, good order is universal.

http://ctext.org/dao-de-jing

 

this translation is closest to the meaning because it was made before tha advent of the new age, and all the nonsence herewith.

 

remember the Qin Shi Huang-di? The one who budried the confucians alive? That is what was meant by "Not to value and employ men of superior ability " in that day and age. He was the first taoist emperor, but not the last.

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不尚賢,使民不爭;不貴難得之貨,使民不為盜;不見可欲,使心不亂。是以聖人之治,虛其心,實其腹,弱其志,強其骨。常使民無知無欲。使夫1知者不敢為也。為無為,則無不治。

Dao De Jing: (Keeping the people at rest)

Not to value and employ men of superior ability is the way to keep the people from rivalry among themselves; not to prize articles which are difficult to procure is the way to keep them from becoming thieves; not to show them what is likely to excite their desires is the way to keep their minds from disorder. Therefore the sage, in the exercise of his government, empties their minds, fills their bellies, weakens their wills, and strengthens their bones. He constantly (tries to) keep them without knowledge and without desire, and where there are those who have knowledge, to keep them from presuming to act (on it). When there is this abstinence from action, good order is universal.

http://ctext.org/dao-de-jing

 

this translation is closest to the meaning because it was made before tha advent of the new age, and all the nonsence herewith.

 

remember the Qin Shi Huang-di? The one who budried the confucians alive? That is what was meant by "Not to value and employ men of superior ability " in that day and age. He was the first taoist emperor, but not the last.

English translation: James Legge. 1891

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Wei wu wei doesn't need to be made complicated - there's no need to bring in confusing shit like "nondual" action which means nothing to anyone... (unless of course you want to write a book... ^_^ )

 

Try unacted action.

Action not made; not manufactured.

Action free from purposefully trying to conform to a preconceived image.

Action free from trying to make a certain impression.

Action free from trying to prove itself to be something:

 

With not a thing to prove,

there is order.

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Hi Majc,

Hello.

 

 

I like that translation you presented. Seems to be more in line with reality.

I like it too. I think it's my favourite. :lol:

 

 

Strengthening bones, etc, I think is referring to paying attention to a person's health rather than what color of clothes a person is wearing on a particular day.

That's not what I get from it personally, but I suppose there could be a way it means that.

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Wei wu wei doesn't need to be made complicated - there's no need to bring in confusing shit like "nondual" action which means nothing to anyone... (unless of course you want to write a book... ^_^ )

 

Try unacted action.

Action not made; not manufactured.

Action free from purposefully trying to conform to a preconceived image.

Action free from trying to make a certain impression.

Action free from trying to prove itself to be something:

 

With not a thing to prove,

there is order.

 

I generally speak to this as action without motive. Just doing what needs be done; or not.

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