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Scripture of the Great Pervader (大通經)

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大通經 Ta-t'ung Ching  Scripture of the Great Pervader  
Translated by Frederic Henry Balfour 
 
大通經 Universal Understanding  
先天而生 生而无形 That which is born in the state of Previous Existence, is born invisible – or formless;  
後天而存 存而无體 being extant in the state of Subsequent Existence, it is incorporeal.  
然而无體 未嘗存也 故曰不可思議 But that which is incorporeal has never really been extant; wherefore such a thing may be said to be unthinkable.  
靜爲之性 心在其中矣 The inherent nature [of man] is quiescent; then his mind is within him.2  
動爲之心 性在其中矣 The mind [of man] is active; then his nature is within him.3  
心生性滅 心滅性現 When the mind prevails, the inherent nature is annihilated; when the mind is annihilated, the inherent nature becomes manifested.  
如空无相 湛然圓滿 Resembling emptiness, without external form, it is then pure and pellucid, perfect and complete.  
大道无相 故内其攝於有 The Great Tao is without peer; wherefore [its votary] ever maintains, interiorly, the Actual – the Existent.  
眞性无爲 故外不生其心 His unalloyed inherent nature is inactive; wherefore his mind never asserts itself externally.  
如如自然 廣无邊際 Self-sufficient and spontaneous, illimitable in extent [are the internal resources of such a man]!  
境忘境不沉 於六賊之魔 Whatever may be the circumstances of surroundings with which he is brought into contact, he ignores them all; he is not engulphed in the toils of the Six Despoilers;  
居塵出塵 不落萬緣之化 living in the dusty world, he is yet outside of it; he is not drawn into the transmutations of the myriad affinities.  
致靜不動 方大明虚變无爲 Being perfectly quiescent, he never moves; possessing perfect harmony, he never changes. His wisdom reflects, as in a mirror, the entire Universe; his emptiness evolves inaction.  
 頌曰  有法悟无法 The existence of Law he perceives to be its absence;  无脩解有脩 Not to cultivate [Tao] he understands as, really, its cultivation;  包含萬象體 He embracingly upholds the myriad forms of Life  不掛一絲頭 Without so much anxiety as the tip of a thread of silk.   
 
 

 

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Universal Understanding The Ta T'ung Ching1  

That which is born in the state of Previous Existence, is born invisible – or formless; being extant in the state of Subsequent Existence, it is incorporeal. But that which is incorporeal has never really been extant; wherefore such a thing may be said to be unthinkable. The inherent nature [of man] is quiescent; then his mind is within him.2 The mind [of man] is active; then his nature is within him.3 When the mind prevails, the inherent nature is annihilated; when the mind is annihilated, the inherent nature becomes manifested. Resembling emptiness, without external form, it is then pure and pellucid, perfect and complete.  The Great Tao is without peer; wherefore [its votary] ever maintains, interiorly, the Actual – the Existent. His unalloyed inherent nature is inactive; wherefore his mind never asserts itself externally. Self-sufficient and spontaneous, illimitable in extent [are the internal resources of such a man]! Whatever may be the circumstances of surroundings with which he is brought into contact, he ignores them all; he is not engulphed in the toils of the Six Despoilers; living in the dusty world, he is yet outside of it; he is not drawn into the transmutations of the myriad affinities. Being perfectly quiescent, he never moves; possessing perfect harmony, he never changes. His wisdom reflects, as in a mirror, the entire Universe; his emptiness evolves inaction.  

 The existence of Law he perceives to be its absence;  Not to cultivate [Tao] he understands as, really, its cultivation;  He embracingly upholds the myriad forms of Life  Without so much anxiety as the tip of a thread of silk.   

Notes  

1. The most superficial perusal of this essay will be found sufficient to detect the strong Buddhist influences to which the author was subjected. Its date is therefore probable later than the Han.  

2. That is, while quiescence, which is the real nature of man, is in the ascendant, the mind remains inactive; it does not emerge from the interior.  

3. When the mind bursts forth in action, the inherent nature of man, being quiescent, takes no part in it, but remains tranquilly within.   

 

 


Bibliography  

Balfour, Fredrick. Taoist Texts: Ethical, Political and Speculative. London/Shanghai: Trübner and Co./Kelly and Walsh, 1894: 68.

 

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然而无體 未嘗存也 故曰不可思議 But that which is incorporeal has never really been extant; wherefore such a thing may be said to be unthinkable.  

靜爲之性 心在其中矣 The inherent nature [of man] is quiescent; then his mind is within him.2  
動爲之心 性在其中矣 The mind [of man] is active; then his nature is within him.3  
 

These 3 lines are messed up, otherwise - good translation.

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