dawei

[DDJ Meaning] Chapter 1

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 Based on this thread:

 

Why must the Dao De Jhing be translated right?

 

This was posted in Ch. 4 by FH:

 

Remember I started the thread about the DDJ being a shamanistic treatise, not in the modern sense of what people think of shamanism, but in the sense that the verses are about looking at the world from the heart and seeing the processes that are involved which is all about energy and matter and the inter-relationship between both.

 

There lies the heart of the Dao.

 

 

Legge

 


The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and unchanging Tao.

The name that can be named is not the enduring and unchanging name.

(Conceived of as) having no name, it is the Originator of heaven and earth;

(conceived of as) having a name, it is the Mother of all things.

Always without desire we must be found, 
If its deep mystery we would sound; 
But if desire always within us be, 
Its outer fringe is all that we shall see.

Under these two aspects, it is really the same; but as development 
takes place, it receives the different names. Together we call them 
the Mystery. Where the Mystery is the deepest is the gate of all that 
is subtle and wonderful. 

 

DC. Lau

 


The way that can be spoken of 
Is not the constant way; 
The name that can be named 
Is not the constant name.

The nameless was the beginning of heaven and earth; 
The named was the mother of the myriad creatures.

Hence always rid yourself of desires in order to observe its secrets; 
But always allow yourself to have desires in order to observe its manifestations.

These two are the same 
But diverge in name as they issue forth. 
Being the same they are called mysteries, 
Mystery upon mystery - 
The gateway of the manifold secrets. 

 

Feng/English

 

1

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. 
The name that can be named is not the eternal name. 
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and Earth. 
The named is the mother of the ten thousand things. 
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery. 
Ever desiring, one sees the manifestations. 
These two spring from the same source but differ in name; this appears as darkness. 
Darkness within darkness. 
The gate to all mystery.

 

Bill Porter (Red Pine)

1996

 

1

The way that becomes a way is not the Immortal Way
the name that becomes a name is not the Immortal Name
the maiden of Heaven and Earth has no name
the mother of all things has a name
thus in innocence we see the beginning
in passion we see the end
two different names for one and the same
the one we call dark the dark beyond dark the door to all beginnings

 

2009

The way that becomes a way
is not the Immortal Way
the name that becomes a name
is not the Immortal Name
no-name is the maiden of Heaven and Earth 
name is the mother of all things
thus in innocence we see the beginning
in passion we see the end 
two different names
for one and the same
the one we call dark
the dark beyond dark
the door to all beginnings
 
 

Jonathan Star

 

1

A way that can be walked
is not The Way
A name that can be named
is not The Name

Tao is both Named and Nameless
As Nameless, it is the origin of all things
As Named, it is the mother of all things.

A mind free of thought,
merged within itself,
beholds the essence of Tao
A mind filled with thought,
identified with its own perceptions,
beholds the mere forms of this world

Tao and this world seem different
but in truth they are one and the same
The only difference is in what we call them

How deep and mysterious is this unity
How profound, how great!
It is the truth beyond the truth,
the hidden within the hidden
It is the path to all wonder,
the gate to the essence of everything!

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These are some common and popular authors and translations that will be used to comment on each chapter.   While we are not trying to delve into each character, that can be raised but the purpose is to understand the overall meaning.   

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For Red Pine’s translation I think it's worth including his notes for each chapter. As well as the primary received versions of the Daodejing he also uses the Mawangdui A & B (Mawangtui) and Guodian (Kuotien) texts, and his notes explains what he has used and why. Mostly they are only a few sentences. This note from chapter one is his longest......

 

During Lao-tzu's day, philosophers were concerned with the correspondence, or lack of it, between name and reality. The things we distinguish as real change, while their names do not. How then can reality be known through names? In lines two and four, I've used the Mawangtui heng (immortal) over the standard ch'ang (eternal), which was introduced to avoid an emperor's personal name. Heng also means "crescent moon:' a not accidental usage in light of Lao-tzu's emphasis on lunar images when talking about the Tao. Around 1070 A.D. Ssuma Kuang and Wang An-shih punctuated lines five through eight in a way that made their subject wu (nonbeing) and yu (being). (Nonbeing is the name of the maiden of Heaven and Earth / being is the name of the mother of all things, and so on.) However, the grammatical particles in the Mawangtui texts make such a reading impossible. In line five, shih normally means "beginning" but China's earliest dictionary, the Shuowen, says, "Shih means 'a virgin'." Ma Hsu-lun suggests shih in this case might also be a loan word for the nearly identical t'ai. While tai normally means "fetus" the Shuowen says it means "a woman in her third month of pregnancy."  Note too, that a woman did not receive her public name until after marriage. In lines seven and thirteen, most editions have miao (mysterious). But according to Pi Yuan, "In ancient times there was no miao [mysterious], only miao [small/beginning],” which is what we find in the Mawangtui texts. This verse is not present in the Kuotien texts.

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The ones on the left symbolise the nameless Dao; the little one on the right the named (conceptual reality). 

 

 

tumblr_ojzvbeh25q1utpbkho1_400.jpg 

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I think if we put up the verses here and then use the thread I started to interpret each chapter :)

 

 

On the other hand, if each chapter gets its own thread, people can come back to the conversation later to comment on a previous chapter, without the confusion that would result from that if all chapters were discussed in a single thread...

 

(Maybe this comment would be better in the other thread, feel free to relocate.  :))

Edited by cheya
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I do like the imagery of Red Pine's "maiden" and "mother".

 

Yes, I like that imagery too. Red Pine is my current favourite Daodejing translator. The language of the Daodejing is poetic and Red Pine writes elsewhere about his method of translating poetry……
 
Of course, translators know that translating poetry is not the same as translating prose, that when you translate a poem you have to make a poem. But a translator doesn't work the same way as a poet. A translator has to go through a different process to bring a poem from one language into another. I don't know how others do it, but when I've tried to think of a metaphor for what I go through, I keep coming up with the image of a dance. I see the poet dancing, but dancing to music I can't hear. Still, I'm sufficiently enthralled by the beauty of the dance that I want to join the poet. And so I try. And as I do, I try not to step on my partner's feet (the so-called literal or accurate translation), but I also try not to dance across the room (the impressionistic translation or version —usually by someone who doesn't know the poet's language). I try to get close enough to feel the poet's rhythm, not only the rhythm of the words but also the rhythm of the poet's heart. 
 
For me, he succeeds in entering the heart of the Daodejing. He dances to the rhythm of the ancient yet timeless Dao, whereas many other translators – especially the more popular ones – turn the Daodejing into a modern dance in tune with contemporary sensibilities. 
Edited by Yueya
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I do like the imagery of Red Pine's "maiden" and "mother".

 

I was told that my version is his first version and not his most recent... I've updated my post to show both...

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I was told that my version is his first version and not his most recent... I've updated my post to show both...

 

I have the 1996 copyright version.  He uses "maiden and mother" in it.

 

Yes, I see he has a 2009 version available.

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I included Star because his translation of the first chapter seems rather interesting....

 

so my initial thoughts...   

 

The opening line is nothing short of brilliancy, as is the entire first chapter whereby the remaining 80 seem but a footnote.   Who would imagine a word/charcter repeated three times of six and yet summarize the entire idea of Dao and reality. 

 

To me, this chapter reveals the essence of enlightenment, perception, awareness of being and non-being within a cosmological explanation of reality.

 

It introduces many significant ideas of daoism and may be overlooked in one regard:  It's use of Xuan (mysterious, primordial), mother, and gate seem neglected due to chapter 6 'mysterious female gate'.... but all three concepts are presented in chapter 1 :)

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Here is my translation of the verse...

 

-The Tao is a primordial sea of nothingness.

-Any attempt to fully describe it is useless as it is beyond the mind.

-As such, the part beyond the mind is beyond what we would call the universe (and all dimensions). It is formless and more like infinite potential.

-What can be described is the universe and all of it's many dimensions, and all that exists or has the potential to exist.

-When one clears the mind, desires drop and one can begin to understand the underlying nature of things.

-With an desiring mind, one has a sense of self and hence gets caught up in the issues and the world.

-But, both of these two states (of mind) are really just the same thing. The difference is just perception/relative clarity of mind.

-Quieting the mind and realizing the pristine clairity underneath is the key.

-This realization leads to the broader understanding of the Tao and all its existing forms.

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Nice post Jeff :)

 

so I'll start on whether there is some summary and/or questions about each chapter.

 

I don't have any big beef with the translations but do recognize they all follow the classical approach and don't really touch on the questions about "The nameless" or "as nameless"...    These author's ignore an alternate view that it is not "wu ming" but "wu, ming"...

 

Regardless, one can still arrive at the same conclusion that what summarizes it all is:  

Tao and this world seem different
but in truth they are one and the same
The only difference is in what we call them

 

This is what the first to last line is saying.

 

I will point out that Heshang Gong, one of the earliest commentaries on the LZ said the 'two' are "desire and non-desire"...  again, if we accept the basic idea that "one and the same" then we don't really need to debate the characters and lines that much.

 

The only item that interests me is what I already raised... whether the idea of a 'mysterious gate' is actually the last lines... most point to chapter 6 instead.   But if you view it here, then the mysterious gate is clearly not something within the body... it is just a 'state' or gateway of 'existence' and 'non-existence'.

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As this is a different thread let me give you my thoughts on the first verse as it was put there.

 

When one wants to describe how the world is and how it is going about its processes, it is impossible to describe this ever evolving process. But it has a fundamental core that drives all things that is known and not known. we can only feel by using our hearts, the one thing that drives all of us and that which has made us. We can see the very thing that this has created. Emptying the mind and purifying the soul will allow us to understand the deep mystery. The source of all life dwells within; it is manifest and empty, a true path to unlock the mysteries of life.

 

This chapter is eluding to internal alchemy and self cultivation

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I see it as practical advice.  When we concentrate on the manifest that is all we see, the material world; when we concentrate on the Mystery that's what we see, lots of mysteries.  (That is unless we try to define the undefinable.)

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As this is a different thread let me give you my thoughts on the first verse as it was put there.

 

When one wants to describe how the world is and how it is going about its processes, it is impossible to describe this ever evolving process. But it has a fundamental core that drives all things that is known and not known. we can only feel by using our hearts, the one thing that drives all of us and that which has made us. We can see the very thing that this has created. Emptying the mind and purifying the soul will allow us to understand the deep mystery. The source of all life dwells within; it is manifest and empty, a true path to unlock the mysteries of life.

 

This chapter is eluding to internal alchemy and self cultivation

 

very nice. thanks.   I think the Heshang Gong commentary tends towards self-cultivation interpretations so I'll have to look at that some more as it seems you'll tend to go in that direction.    I've read folks go in that direction but I find your explanation, like Jeff's better than I've seen before.

 

I think we once talked about this in the past... but, this series of discussions, as you share your interpretations, would make for a future update to the transmitted DDJ... and I'd go as far to say that it should find someone to publish it.

 

In any case... I'm glad you raised the idea to do this... we won't agree but I hope it brings forth new ideas to folks.  I can say it has for me already :)

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Nice post Jeff :)

 

so I'll start on whether there is some summary and/or questions about each chapter.

 

I don't have any big beef with the translations but do recognize they all follow the classical approach and don't really touch on the questions about "The nameless" or "as nameless"...    These author's ignore an alternate view that it is not "wu ming" but "wu, ming"...

 

Regardless, one can still arrive at the same conclusion that what summarizes it all is:  

Tao and this world seem different[/size]but in truth they are one and the same[/size]The only difference is in what we call them[/size]

 

This is what the first to last line is saying.

 

I will point out that Heshang Gong, one of the earliest commentaries on the LZ said the 'two' are "desire and non-desire"...  again, if we accept the basic idea that "one and the same" then we don't really need to debate the characters and lines that much.

 

The only item that interests me is what I already raised... whether the idea of a 'mysterious gate' is actually the last lines... most point to chapter 6 instead.   But if you view it here, then the mysterious gate is clearly not something within the body... it is just a 'state' or gateway of 'existence' and 'non-existence'.

The mysterious gate is not mysterious for me at all.

 

I cultivate it every day and night.

 

I invite everyone to cultivate it with me.

 

Not "study" it.

 

It can't be studied.

 

It can't be told.

 

But it can be cultivated "every day"

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The mysterious gate is not mysterious for me at all.

 

I agree... and said something similar in a past thread...  and why I prefer the translation of 'original' or 'primordial' for Xuan...

 

I've told this story else.   In the oracle bones, one picture is of an '8'... and it is interesting to me that if you turn that flat, it is the infinity sign... but as chinese time is really vertical, it is infinity to the heavens :)

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I agree... and said something similar in a past thread...  and why I prefer the translation of 'original' or 'primordial' for Xuan...

 

I've told this story else.   In the oracle bones, one picture is of an '8'... and it is interesting to me that if you turn that flat, it is the infinity sign... but as chinese time is really vertical, it is infinity to the heavens :)

Yes, 玄關 Xuan-guan can be written as 元關 Yuan-guan.

 

元 ,始也,Yuan means origin

 

The ancient 元 is the same as ancient 玄

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Yes, 玄關 Xuan-guan can be written as 元關 Yuan-guan.

 

元 ,始也,Yuan means origin

 

The ancient 元 is the same as ancient 玄

 

Thank you... I've waited for someone to confirm that :)

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Regardless, one can still arrive at the same conclusion that what summarizes it all is:  

Tao and this world seem different

but in truth they are one and the same

The only difference is in what we call them

 

One idea for this study was to try and come up with a sentence or two that encapsulates the meaning... for me, the above Star quote does.  I could formulate that into my own thinking...

 

Do others have something, as a quote or in their own words, that captures the chapter?

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The first chapter is the most important part of dao.

 

觀其妙 and 觀其竅 is the most important part of the daoist cultivation.

 

Many people learn Qi gung from many Chinese teachers.

 

And they can feel that there is strong Qi go through them.

 

They think that is dao.

 

Many people ask me a lot of questions about dan dao.

 

Why do these people who cultivate Qi every day don't know anything about dan dao?

 

Because what they learn is Qi , not dao.

 

The entrance of dao is in the chapter 1 of dao de Jin.

 

觀其妙 and 觀其竅

 

Not running Qi or Mco

 

Most of people who go the wrong way want to know what happen in the right way.

 

When I told them, the way you go is not right, you should go another way, they don't believe me

 

They insist they are in the right way, and ask me to tell them the feeling in their body is something in dan dao.

 

Sorry.

 

I don't want to lie to you.

 

If you choose to stay in the feeling of chi , instead of facing your original source, I can't tell you you are on the right way.

 

I do receive Qi, but I don't practice any methods to receive Qi.

 

I receive Qi because I open my 玄關竅

 

I open my 玄關竅 , because I try to follow the rules of dao.

 

I choose to believe the dao and give up all the secret methods.

 

When we read 道德經,we should not "study" it.

 

We should find the rules of dao and follow it all our life.

 

I don't understand why some people are so blind.

 

Actually, I am blind, too.

 

I can't aware all the time.

 

抱一能無離乎

Can we Hold one without leaving it?

From chp 10

 

I don't think I do it well.

 

 

 

 

We can see three different states of cultivation.

 

觀其妙 watch the remarkable

觀其竅 watch the entrance

抱一 hold one

 

What is the different of these three states?

 

Can anyone tell the difference?

 

I am sure that if you just cultivate Qi, the only state you can understand is 抱一

 

If you can see light, then you can understand a little bit about the entrence

 

If you can get into the emptiness, then you can understand the first part, 觀其妙,watching the remarkable.

Edited by awaken
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The mysterious gate is not mysterious for me at all.

 

I cultivate it every day and night.

 

I invite everyone to cultivate it with me.

 

Not "study" it.

 

It can't be studied.

 

It can't be told.

 

But it can be cultivated "every day"

Could you give an idea the way you cultivate it?

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I agree... and said something similar in a past thread...  and why I prefer the translation of 'original' or 'primordial' for Xuan...

 

I've told this story else.   In the oracle bones, one picture is of an '8'... and it is interesting to me that if you turn that flat, it is the infinity sign... but as chinese time is really vertical, it is infinity to the heavens :)

8 may be is just a coincidence. If you say original, and I agree, why most translations in English have "mysterious"though I see it also means the dark color of water or the sky, is that right?

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8 may be is just a coincidence. If you say original, and I agree, why most translations in English have "mysterious"though I see it also means the dark color of water or the sky, is that right?

 

sure...  but is it wrong ?

 

just a curious item that i've never seen a sinologist mention ;)

 

 

added:  The Yi Jing said xuan as a color means heaven...

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