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[DDJ Meaning] Chapter 2

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Legge

 

All in the world know the beauty of the beautiful, and in doing 
this they have (the idea of) what ugliness is; they all know the skill 
of the skilful, and in doing this they have (the idea of) what the 
want of skill is.
So it is that existence and non-existence give birth the one to 
(the idea of) the other; that difficulty and ease produce the one (the 
idea of) the other; that length and shortness fashion out the one the 
figure of the other; that (the ideas of) height and lowness arise from 
the contrast of the one with the other; that the musical notes and 
tones become harmonious through the relation of one with another; and 
that being before and behind give the idea of one following another.
Therefore the sage manages affairs without doing anything, and 
conveys his instructions without the use of speech.
All things spring up, and there is not one which declines to show 
itself; they grow, and there is no claim made for their ownership; 
they go through their processes, and there is no expectation (of a 
reward for the results). The work is accomplished, and there is no 
resting in it (as an achievement).
The work is done, but how no one can see; 
'Tis this that makes the power not cease to be. 
 
 
DC. Lau
 
The whole world recognizes the beautiful as the beautiful, yet this is only the ugly; 
the whole world recognizes the good as the good, yet this is only the bad.
Thus Something and Nothing produce each other; 
The difficult and the easy complement each other; 
The long and the short off-set each other; 
The high and the low incline towards each other; 
Note and sound harmonize with each other; 
Before and after follow each other.
Therefore the sage keeps to the deed that consists in taking no action and practises the teaching that uses no words.
The myriad creatures rise from it yet it claims no authority; 
It gives them life yet claims no possession; 
It benefits them yet exacts no gratitude; 
It accomplishes its task yet lays claim to no merit.
It is because it lays claim to no merit 
That its merit never deserts it. 
 
 
Feng/English
 

2

Under heaven all can see beauty as beauty only because there is ugliness. 
All can know good as good only because there is evil.
Therefore having and not having arise together. 
Difficult and easy complement each other. 
Long and short contrast each other: 
High and low rest upon each other; 
Voice and sound harmonize each other; 
Front and back follow one another.
Therefore the sage goes about doing nothing, teaching no-talking. 
The ten thousand things rise and fall without cease, 
Creating, yet not possessing.
Working, yet not taking credit. 
Work is done, then forgotten. 
Therefore it lasts forever.
 
 
Bill Porter (Red Pine)
 
2
All the world knows beauty
but if that becomes beautiful
this becomes ugly
all the world knows good
but if that becomes good
this becomes bad
have and have not create each other
hard and easy produce each other 
long and short shape each other 
high and low complete each other 
note and noise accompany each other 
first and last follow each other
sages therefore perform effortless deeds 
and teach wordless lessons
they don't look after all the things that arise 
or depend on them as they develop 
or claim them when they reach perfection 
and because they don't claim them 
they are never without them
 
 

Jonathan Star

 

2
Everyone recognizes beauty
only because of ugliness
Everyone recognizes virtue
only because of sin
 
Life and death are born together
Difficult and easy
Long and short
High and low --
all these exist together
arrive together
Sound and silence blend together
Before and after
 
The Sage acts without action
and teaches without talking
All things flourish around him
and he does not refuse any one of them
He gives but not to receive
He works but not for reward
He completes but not for results
He does nothing for himself in this passing world
so nothing he does ever passes
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To me, this one is pretty simple...

 

-Heaven is beyond duality, the world is dualistic

-give many example of this point

-the sage naturally lives beyond the normal back and forth whipsawing of desires

-his naturally living in the flow of the Dao is the best teacher

-stuff is alway happening in world based upon cause and effect

-the key is to just live and not get attached to any of it.

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Wu Wei is not only an attitude to face the world , but also a way to cultivate in practical practice.

 

The first part of ch 2 say it very clear , because we "chase" for some specific target, we separate the target and us, duality

 

When we know what is beautiful, we are already not beautiful.

 

When we realize what is good, we are already not good.

 

When we cultivate, we think "sitting" meditation is beautiful and good, we already separate ourselves from the real meditation.

 

Ch 1 describe the two states of cultivation.

 

Ch 2 describe the way to cultivate.

 

We don't need any methods or any target when we are cultivate.

 

We just let everything grow by itself.

 

It will change by itself.

 

In the end, the Xiuan Guan will open.

 

 

功成而弗居。夫唯弗居,是以不去。

 

I think the part is the same as 金剛經 ,應無所住而生其心

 

When we succeed, we don't stay there.

 

Because we don't stay, we don't leave.(dao)

 

 

 

 

I open Xiuan guan without any methods because I know if I use methods, the Xiuan guan would not open.

 

Few people trust the power of wu Wei.

 

When cultivating, everything is seeking a secret method.

 

Ch 2 is the method I use.

 

I use it every day and last for many years.

 

 

 

We should trust Lao zi, right?

Edited by awaken
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Yes, Chapter 2 builds on Chapter 1.  The Manifest - the physical world of Dualities.  The Mystery - the world of non-Dualities.  And yes, Wu Wei is found in the Mystery, not the Manifest.

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Red Pine’s notes for his translation of this verse…..

 

I have used the wording of the Mawangtui and Kuotien texts for lines seven through twelve but have omitted the Mawangtui insertion of heng (is endless) after line twelve. In line fifteen, I have followed the Kuotien wording: ssu (look after) in place of the usual shih (begin). Between lines fifteen and sixteen, neither the Mawangtui nor Kuotien copies include the line sheng-er-pu-yu, "or possess what they beget,” which appears in the Wangpi and Fuyi editions and which was apparently interpolated from a similar sequence that appears in verse 51. The last two lines also appear in verse 77.

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Wu Wei is not only an attitude to face the world , but also a way to cultivate in practical practice.

 

The first part of ch 2 say it very clear , because we "chase" for some specific target, we separate the target and us, duality

 

When we know what is beautiful, we are already not beautiful.

 

When we realize what is good, we are already not good.

 

When we cultivate, we think "sitting" meditation is beautiful and good, we already separate ourselves from the real meditation.

 

Ch 1 describe the two states of cultivation.

 

Ch 2 describe the way to cultivate.

 

We don't need any methods or any target when we are cultivate.

 

We just let everything grow by itself.

 

It will change by itself.

 

In the end, the Xiuan Guan will open.

 

 

功成而弗居。夫唯弗居,是以不去。

 

I think the part is the same as 金剛經 ,應無所住而生其心

 

When we succeed, we don't stay there.

 

Because we don't stay, we don't leave.(dao)

 

 

 

 

I open Xiuan guan without any methods because I know if I use methods, the Xiuan guan would not open.

 

Few people trust the power of wu Wei.

 

When cultivating, everything is seeking a secret method.

 

Ch 2 is the method I use.

 

I use it every day and last for many years.

 

 

 

We should trust Lao zi, right?

 

another post I can't reduce :)

 

The challenge in using the word 'cultivation' is there is an idea of 'doing' and yet you talk of the wu wei path of non-doing.  I think this is very difficult to get across in discussion.   A short story.

 

I was two years into Qigong and then Medical Qigong studies... and someone at a website was using the word "cultivation" and when I questioned him what that really means, he called me a troll.   The fact is, my two Qigong masters never used the word...  everything was just about flow and allowing, and going deeper and letting go...

 

if you looked up or down or inside, just go there.   That is not cultivation.  That is simply integrating, residing or being with One.

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Yes

 

So let not talk.

 

Let do the Wu Wei

 

Wu Wei is not non-doing.

 

Is Non-interfering.

 

You can not understand Wu Wei by your brain.

 

That is why I invite people to write the diaries.

 

Then I can adjust the direction for you.

 

Ha, I learn the word here.

 

You know my English word is very few.

 

Not many choice to choose the write words.

 

If you discuss the English with me, I don't know how to answer you.

 

I am not a native English speaker.

 

Maybe after few years, I can use better words to say.

 

But if you don't practice, the more you think, the more confuse you got.

Edited by awaken
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But if you don't practice, the more you think, the more confuse you got.

How many times here have I said to someone. "You think too much."?

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The second writing of Li Erh, or shall we say where it was placed by the gatekeeper.

 

Understanding of the way comes from our observation.

 

Wu Wei is an active act to take no action or interference in the way all things go together. It does not mean that one never acts, it means that when one is wise enough to see the ten thousand things rise, integrate and fall naturally, then there is no need to act. It is about understanding this process and what is right, is with the way and what is against the way. A Sage of course does have to act when things are not in balance and the processes are being lost. In modern time we have to act a lot of the time, because as a species we are setting up so many imbalances because people don't know the way nor do they care. The processes which are the way are ever evolving and reproducing; working with the way, if it is natural, requires no acknowledgement even though this work sustains and its processes go on and on.

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One observation from this chapter is the diversity in interpreting the last lines.

 

Legge - as statements

 

Lau, Feng - as to the ten thousand... although I think it could be argued it is simply a finger pointing to Dao as it regards 'process'.

 

Porter, Star - as to the sage

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I'm curious how y'all deal with the irony inherent in the statement describing not speaking/ teaching - to the audience , as being sagely , but at the same time be ' speaking /teaching ' to the audience.. the reader. 

 

 

Also, it appears Mr Star omits a 'therefore' ,

so I'm wondering whether the closest original has any actual indication of a 'therefore'. ( since its very much a significant modification indicating that the stuff before it becomes rationale for the stuff after it, when you DO include a therefore,,, and doesn't necessarily imply that the earlier portion is rationale for the later part , if one doesn't include a 'therefore'. Omitting it, one could comprehend the two portions as being comparative , rather than part one being causative for the second) 

Edited by Stosh
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Yes, the "therefore" is important, in my opinion.

 

"... teach wordless lessons ..." is sometimes called leading by example.

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I'm curious how y'all deal with the irony inherent in the statement describing not speaking/ teaching - to the audience , as being sagely , but at the same time be ' speaking /teaching ' to the audience.. the reader. 

 

I've joked before that the first line of 5,000 characters suggest it cannot be described.... yet 5,000 characters follow  :D

 

HUGE  irony  :P

 

A hallmark of LZ is... both/and...   the emphasis we put on duality in manifestation is a finger pointing to the duality of chapter 1 (manifest & mystery).      He is the greatest teaser one can imagine :)

 

 

Also, it appears Mr Star omits a 'therefore' ,

so I'm wondering whether the closest original has any actual indication of a 'therefore'. ( since its very much a significant modification indicating that the stuff before it becomes rationale for the stuff after it, when you DO include a therefore,,, and doesn't necessarily imply that the earlier portion is rationale for the later part , if one doesn't include a 'therefore'. Omitting it, one could comprehend the two portions as being comparative , rather than part one being causative for the second) 

 

Therefore/Thus/So ,  is the first characters prior to 'Sage'...   "Therefore the sage....".

 

The challenge is that the next line changes to talking about the Ten Thousand...  and then the final part unfolds...   with another "Therefore" in the last line... as Feng translates.

 

I think this may be the magic of LZ... he can talk about the sage, the ten thousand, and yet he means Dao...  In this way, even Legge can be digested as mere statements of Dao's process of the manifest world.

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Thanks, So then , since we should then consider the therefores as integral to the initial intent ,many if not all of the chapters could be considered explanatory rather than mysterious , correct? (mysterious meaning,, defiant of rational understanding)

The work should be considered as an exposition , rather than a dogmatic or esoteric work. Yes? 

And Mr Star is leaving out important portions in his interpretation. 

 

Considering this passage in that light , how do you see the first part,

justifying the sage managing his affairs as described in the second part?

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Thanks, So then , since we should then consider the therefores as integral to the initial intent ,many if not all of the chapters could be considered explanatory rather than mysterious , correct? (mysterious meaning,, defiant of rational understanding)

The work should be considered as an exposition , rather than a dogmatic or esoteric work. Yes? 

And Mr Star is leaving out important portions in his interpretation. 

 

I think a person should consider it in whatever way makes sense to them :)

 

That Star leaves out a word doesn't bother me if I'm just looking to get the basic meaning... sometimes the meaning (to me) might not even be stated in a straightforward manner anyways.

 

 

Considering this passage in that light , how do you see the first part,

justifying the sage managing his affairs as described in the second part?

 

I personally do consider that most chapters are internally linked within that same chapter... that the first part usually carries an explanation that follows.

 

In this chapter, I see the same juxtaposition Jeff seems to imply...  it opens talking about the way of mankind then proceeds to contrast that with the sage's way.

 

I like what Awaken said:  'we "chase" for some specific target, we separate the target and us, duality'

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The author gave us things to consider , so he must've thought there was some benefit to considering certain things. There being a benefit to be gained , there is likely a perspective which can yield this benefit , and potentially perspectives which do not. 

Personally I think the work has both merit and intent , so I cant agree that any perspective is equally correct, nor can I agree that excluding the therefore is inconsequential , since the understanding pivots on it. 

 

Leaving the therefore out does potentially yield a view that the sage just acts contrarian , or leaves the passage indicating that the way of the sage is simply the inverse of what everyone else does. I'd consider it equally valid to hold that opinion , if I was not just told that the therefore is indeed explicitly indicated. 

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It seems the thread has gone silent, the prospect of there actually being correct and incorrect understanding perhaps diminishes the enthusiasm of some,,  Or maybe its the idea that in considering everyone's speculations as being equally correct ,means that one cannot actually attribute special meaning authentic to the author. 


As Flowing hands introduced the idea in this following fashion in the Other thread,...


I compared the presented translations , discovered an inconsistency , determined that inconsistency to be unsupported by the text and therefore out of line with the authors intent. The reply indicates that the intent of the author is considered not to override the personal slant of any given reader , and inconsistency with the original work is not universally considered to be important.


Readers openly admit they find the text mysterious and confusing , but they like it that way, It's more romantic as a poetic mess, less intimidating as a puzzle, more embraceable as a Rorschach blot.. ,,than it is as a heartfelt and sincere attempt to convey truth. That is , in fact what it is about ..truth, and why one should embrace the truth, to the point of living in harmony according to ones natural response to this new perspective. 


 


IMO


 


Flowing Hands, I quote ,, "There have been many differing translations of the DDJ. Each has a different slant and meaning.


 


Why should it be translated completely right? We can look at various chapters and compare them and how they differ and what we comprehend from each variation and was this meaning intended by Lao Tzu for instance?


 


So put up some versions we could start off with verse one and analyse each verse and the various translations available. We can contribute to each lines meaning and see what we get from various members perspectives. It will be an interesting challenge, with some self understanding along the way perhaps!"

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That's a pretty good opinion Stosh.

 

And I will admit, I am more interested in the philosophy than the poetry.

 

I'm glad you mentioned the missing "therefore" because I didn't even notice.

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Thanks for your thoughtful contributions here Stosh. I've read and noted everyone's comments. I personally like silence but, unfortunately, engaged silence doesn't transmit well on a web forum. Hence this reply.

 

I think there may well be more interest in discussing the differences between the various translations as this topic progresses and significant differences are revealed. So far, for me at least, they all say much the same thing. (There are significant differences in mainstream interpretations of these lines in chapter one: "Ever desireless, one can see the mystery, Ever desiring, one sees the manifestations.", but none of the four referenced translations displayed these. However, Red Pine mentions it his notes.) 

 

As to the substance of your last comment, by way of reply I can only repeat my comment from the other thread:

 

 

For me, the beauty of the Daodejing is that it lies coiled like a dragon in the liminal space between yin (unnameable mystery) and yang (meaning that’s expressible in words). Hence it’s meaning is intentionally fluid; its significance will always differ from person to person as well as according to the dominant worldviews of any particular time.  
 
From Red Pine….
 
“But trying to force the Taoteching into the categories of modern discourse not only distorts the Taoteching but also treats the traditions that later Taoists have associated with the text as irrelevant and misguided. Meanwhile, the Taoteching continues to inspire millions of Chinese as a spiritual text. And I have tried to present it in that dark light. The words of philosophers fail here. If words are of any use at all, they are the words of the poet. For poetry has the ability to point us toward the truth then stand aside, while prose stands in the doorway relating all the wonders on the other side but rarely lets us pass.
 
Although I haven't attempted to reproduce Lao-tzu's poetic devices (Hsu Yungchang identifies twenty-eight different kinds of rhyme), I have tried to convey the poetic feel with which he strings together images for our breath and spirit, but not necessarily our minds. For the Taoteching is one long poem written in praise of something we cannot name, much less imagine.”
 
From David Hinton…..
 
“And perhaps the most impressive aspect of Lao Tzu's power as a poet is how his poetic strategies induce this meditative experience in the reader. Mysterious utterances, misty terminology, fragmentary collage form with open and enigmatic juxtapositions, an abounding ambiguity that exploits the uncertainty inherent to the syntax and semantics of ancient Chinese – these surprisingly modern strategies all keep the poetry as close as possible to the undifferentiated primal mystery of Way, forcing the reader to participate in the generative emptiness at the source of language, mind, and all heaven and earth.”

 

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萬物作焉而不辭

 

萬 10 thousand

物 things

作焉 start, wire, do, run

而 but

不 not

辭,訟也,爭也(說文)dispute

 

I think this is the second important of the chapter

 

The most important part is wu Wei

 

And 萬物作焉而不辭 is the second part, is a result of wu Wei

 

Everything start and grow but no dispute

 

Dispute 辭 means duality

 

不辭 means no dispute, without duality

 

If we have a method, we have a goal.

 

We separate what we are now and future.

 

The one we are now, the one we are in the future.

 

We deny what we are now, and chase what we are not.

 

This is not wu Wei.

 

We don't deny what we are now.

 

What we are is what we are.

 

We just let it grow by itself.

 

Everything will follow the rules of nature

 

Grow by itself

Edited by awaken
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You reminded me of the story of the field that is barren of any growth during the winter but upon returning to the same field in early summer the field is full of growth of all types, all on its own with no ones help.

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I had that exact excerpt in mind Yueya. :)

While I like the writing, its nuance in connotation , its sophistication in constuct, at heart, the important thing to me is what I believe the author wanted me to understand. I think I get it but need reminding, need confirmation if I am on the right track . Because its so easy to get astray, for me.

Im as suceptible to all the error that anyone else is and cant change the dualistic and imaginative and emotional biases that I have. Understanding only goes ,so far.

You put a finger right on one example, which is that a forum such as this, in fact pushes with the impetus ones desire to speak up, to be .... confrontational. Silence doesnt type out easily. Certainly no one knows the degree to which I hold my tongue. ;) And saying ditto doesnt add anything , It just looks like kissing up to favorite authors.

I wasnt going to insert my views, but then did. I see the idea that ANY perspective being equal , as an end to enquiry, which bothers me if its about this stuff. There is mystery at the root of living and being , but what one man wanted to relate to us ,respect equates to wanting to at least hear the man out.Hear him clearly and unspun with our own bias. He spoke to people that spoke his way , and the fact that we now dont remember the way words were use 2300 years ago means we we have to work even harder . So we do need to really apply our brains.... and only then can begin to forget specifics.

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I see the idea that ANY perspective being equal , as an end to enquiry, which bothers me if its about this stuff.

 

Any perspective is just saying folks will understand it differently... I think that produces more inquiry as now I need to listen to several folks to understand their POV.   So I just see it as producing discussion...  as one joke I heard: If we all agreed then most of us are not needed in the conversation.

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Stosh, I would ask you to read Alan Chan's essay that I referenced in the other thread. It surely answers many of your questions with the detail such inquiry deserves.

 

 

For me personally, the brief comments and opinions expressed within our Dao Bums discussion format can only ever scratch the surface of a complex topic such as Daodejing interpretation. These discussions however often serve the vital purpose of stirring my curiosity towards further research. The best overview I’ve come across of the Daodejing and its tradition is this essay by Alan Chan.  I highly recommend it to anyone who wants nuanced insight into the vast body of commentary that this short text has inspired since it was written over 2000 years ago. In fact, I'd call it essential reading. 

 

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