dawei

[DDJ Meaning] Chapter 20

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20 
When we renounce learning we have no troubles. 
The (ready) 'yes,' and (flattering) 'yea;'-- 
Small is the difference they display. 
But mark their issues, good and ill;-- 
What space the gulf between shall fill?

What all men fear is indeed to be feared; but how wide and without end 
is the range of questions (asking to be discussed)!

The multitude of men look satisfied and pleased; as if enjoying a 
full banquet, as if mounted on a tower in spring. I alone seem 
listless and still, my desires having as yet given no indication of 
their presence. I am like an infant which has not yet smiled. I look 
dejected and forlorn, as if I had no home to go to. The multitude of 
men all have enough and to spare. I alone seem to have lost 
everything. My mind is that of a stupid man; I am in a state of 
chaos.

Ordinary men look bright and intelligent, while I alone seem to be 
benighted. They look full of discrimination, while I alone am dull 
and confused. I seem to be carried about as on the sea, drifting as 
if I had nowhere to rest. All men have their spheres of action, while 
I alone seem dull and incapable, like a rude borderer. (Thus) I alone 
am different from other men, but I value the nursing-mother (the Tao). 
 

Lau

 

20 
Between yea and nay 
How much difference is there? 
Between good and evil 
How great is the distance?

What others fear 
One must also fear.

The multitude are joyous 
As if partaking of the offering 
Or going up to a terrace in spring. 
I alone am inactive and reveal no signs, 
And wax without having reached the limit. 
Like a baby that has not yet learned to smile, 
Listless as though with no home to go back to. 
The multitude all have more than enough. 
I alone seem to be in want. 
My mind is that of a fool - how blank! 
Vulgar people are clear. 
I alone am drowsy. 
Vulgar people are alert. 
I alone am muddled. 
Calm like the sea; 
Like a high wind that never ceases. 
The multitude all have a purpose. 
I alone am foolish and uncouth. 
I alone am different from others 
And value being fed by the mother. 

 

Feng/English

 

20

Give up learning, and put an end to your troubles.

Is there a difference between yes and no? 
Is there a difference between good and evil? 
Must I fear what others fear? What nonsense! 
Other people are contented, enjoying the sacrificial feast of the ox. 
In spring some go to the park, and climb the terrace, 
But I alone am drifting, not knowing where I am. 
Like a newborn babe before it learns to smile, 
I am alone, without a place to go.

Others have more than they need, but I alone have nothing. 
I am a fool. Oh, yes! I am confused. 
Others are clear and bright, 
But I alone am dim and weak. 
Others are sharp and clever, 
But I alone am dull and stupid. 
Oh, I drift like the waves of the sea, 
Without direction, like the restless wind.

Everyone else is busy, 
But I alone am aimless and depressed. 
I am different. 
I am nourished by the great mother.
 

Jonathan Star

 

The difference between a formal yes and a casual yeah how slight!
The difference between knowing Truth and not knowing it ? how great!
Must I fear what others fear?
Should I fear desolation when there is abundance?
Should I fear darkness when that light is shining everywhere?
Nonsense!
The people of this world are steeped in their merrymaking as if gorging at a great feast or watching the sights of springtime
Yet here I sit, without a sign, staring blank-eyed like a child
I am but a guest in this world
While others rush about to get things done
I accept what is offered
Oh, my mind is like that of a fool aloof to the clamour of life around me
Everyone seems so bright and alive with the sharp distinctions of day
I appear dark and dull with the blending of differences by night
I am drifting like an ocean, floating like the winds
Everyone is so rooted in this world yet I have no place to lay my head
Indeed I am different. . . .
I have no treasures but the Eternal Mother
I have no food but what comes from her breast
 

Flowing Hand's Tranmission

 

20

Give up learning, put an end to your troubles.  Remain and dwell in simplicity. 
I am contented, for I dwell in the infinite;  the Dao is full when it is present in the heart. 
Others enjoy the feast, but I am alone and wandering, drifting with the wind. Open and yielding like a new born babe.  Innocent and simple, for I am nourished by the Great Mother of all thing,, 
Others have more than what they need, but I alone have nothing. I seem foolish and confused, but I alone am aware and alert. Other Men seem sharp and clever, For my simplicity and innocence appears dull and stupid to such Men.  I drift like the waves of the sea and follow the flow. 
Everyone seems busy, but I alone am without desire and uncluttered. I am different, for I am nourished by the great Dao. 
 
 

Hinton

 

20

If you give up learning, troubles end.
How much difference is there between yes and no?
And is there a difference between lovely and ugly?
If we can't stop fearing
those things people fear,
it's pure confusion, never-ending confusion.
People all radiate such joy,
happily offering a sacrificial ox
or climbing a tower in spring.
But I go nowhere and reveal nothing,
like a newborn child who has yet to smile,
aimless and worn out
as if the way home were lost.
People all have enough and more.
But I'm abandoned and destitute,
an absolute simpleton, this mind of mine so utterly
muddled and blank.
Others are bright and clear:
I'm dark and murky.
Others are confident and effective:
I'm pensive and withdrawn,
uneasy as boundless seas
or perennial mountain winds.
People all have a purpose in life,
but I'm inept, thoroughly useless and backward.
I'll never be like other people:
I keep to the nurturing mother.

 

Lin

 

20

Cease learning, no more worries
Respectful response and scornful response
How much is the difference?
Goodness and evil
How much do they differ?
What the people fear, I cannot be unafraid
So desolate! How limitless it is!
The people are excited
As if enjoying a great feast
As if climbing up to the terrace in spring
I alone am quiet and uninvolved
Like an infant not yet smiling
So weary, like having no place to return
The people all have surplus
While I alone seem lacking
I have the heart of a fool indeed - so ignorant!
Ordinary people are bright
I alone am muddled
Ordinary people are scrutinizing
I alone am obtuse
So tranquil, like the ocean
So moving, as if without limits
The people all have goals
And I alone am stubborn and lowly
I alone am different from them
And value the nourishing mother

 

[Lin Commentary]

The blind pursuit of learning leads to excessive desires - the more you see, the more you want. Excessive desires, in turn, lead to anxiety and misery. Once we understand this and decide to no longer subject ourselves to information overload, the anxiety and misery disappear as quickly as the mental clutter.
People tend to place too much importance and attachment to value judgments like good, evil, respect and scorn. In reality these are relative variables that change according to perspective. How much do they actually differ, when there are no absolute standards to measure against?
Of course, I always proceed cautiously as a Tao cultivator. Whatever the people fear, I must approach with a healthy dose of caution. If they consider something to be bad, there is probably a reason. I will handle it with care, even though I understand the relative nature of value judgments. In this respect, I am not that different from them.
Still, the great Tao is so vast, seemingly without limits. The gap between the Tao and ordinary people is huge indeed. For the most part, what they do and how they behave are quite different from my way of being.
For instance, see how easily they become happy and excited, as if enjoying a great feast, or hiking up to a scenic spot where they can take in the panoramic view. I, on the other hand, maintain my quietness, tranquility, and the purity of my original nature, like a newborn baby that has not yet learned to smile. My demeanor is not jittery and excitable. Instead, it is slow and low-key, as if I am a weary traveler without a home to return to, and is therefore in no rush.
I notice how the people have too much, while I alone seem to have too little. Their lives are filled with things they do not need, while I carry no excess baggage. My way is minimalist. I possess the bare necessities of life and and the freedom that comes with having few burdens.
It would certainly appear that I have the heart and mind of a fool. I seem so simple and ignorant compared to the shrewdness of ordinary people. They seem so brilliant and logical. They handle everything in a calculating way, while I react slowly and cannot account for every little thing. They scrutinize every detail in everything with a sharp eye, while I am happy enough with a general idea and fuzzy approximations.
My mind is tranquil and still, like the depths of the ocean. At the same time, it is also moving dynamically, like the wind high in the sky. This is something that most people are not likely to understand.
I see them frantically pursuing various goals in the world, displaying their many talents and abilities, trying to get ahead in the rat race. Meanwhile, I appear to be stubbornly persisting in my lowly ways. Why am I so different? It is only because I hold on to the basis of life, the nurturing mother of all things - the Great Tao itself!

 

Notes
When Lao Tzu talks about not being overly calculating and scrutinizing, he is specifically referring to our conduct in interpersonal relationships. Most people keep track of "scores" - slights, cold shoulders, back stabs, and so on - with great clarity and precision, so that when the time is right they can dole out vengeance and "even the score."
Tao cultivators do not do that. They take action to protect themselves, or distance themselves from malicious people, but otherwise let go of personal affronts without needing to retaliate in kind.
People who do not understand think cultivators must be obtuse to let others take advantage of them like that. They fail to see that, as Gandhi once pointed out, if we all practice "an eye for an eye," pretty soon the whole world will be blind.
In the game of life, those who shrewdly "win" at the expense of others will end up losing big sooner or later. Tao cultivators, in following Lao Tzu's wisdom, seem to "lose" in the short term, only to end up, inexplicably, as the ultimate winners in the long run.

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All The translations offered for this chapter  really have a nice poetic quality.

 

Though it looks pretty Ironic , to have the speaker self describe , as being depressed stupid and worn out - the result of being Daoist , or resulting in adoption of the ' dark mother'  as a last resort before suicide or death from old age.  Its not exactly 'modern style' salesmanship. Kind of a negative presentation in some ways. 

 

My soul is weak and dull, my spirit collapsed.

Other people , fools ,  are having purposeless fun goofing around with parties

, and I am just sitting here staring blankly into space , essentially waiting to die. 

Edited by Stosh

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27 minutes ago, Stosh said:

My soul is weak and dull, my spirit collapsed.

Other people , fools ,  are having purposeless fun goofing around with parties

, and I am just sitting here staring blankly into space , essentially waiting to die. 

Some things can be said to be, at face value, perfectly negative.

 

I must not pass any value judgements here though.

 

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29 minutes ago, Marblehead said:

Some thingsjudgmentssaid to be, at face value, perfectly negative.

 

I must not pass any value judgements here though.

 

Why not? The point was to to poke out value judgements. :)

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Look at Lins commentary , He is badmouthing scrutiny while scrutinizing. He thinks the excitement and fun is foolishness. He feels worn out, doesnt even know how to smile.. He attributes his grim existance to knowing the mindset of Dao, he thinks he is above and beyond everybody else, when his descriptions draw a picture that suggest that in finding Dao , he lost the illusions vigor and reward that everyone else is finding.. As the Hogfather somewhat put it, one has to live with some inaccuracy illusion etc in order for the living well to exist. 

Ones family friends belongings justice. mercy goodness and love ,is not the province of cold unimaginative natural process. 

Edited by Stosh
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1 hour ago, Stosh said:

Why not? The point was to to poke out value judgements. :)

Which am I to criticize?  Those who are having fun and enjoying life or the one who has no desire to join in on the fun making?

 

 

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10 hours ago, Marblehead said:

Which am I to criticize?  Those wh and evirtuousg life or the one who has no desire to join in on the fun making?

 

 

The one who says he has lost the desire ,while he criticizes the others. IF THE WORDS ARE ACCUrate then he isn't happy and bringingtinging on long life or energy to himself, and has no standing to present his attitudes as virtue

Cant fix typos for some reason, mobile version is screwed up in several ways. 

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Yeah, bad typos.  But I understand your post so all is good.

 

I could easily agree with you but I still wish to hold my tongue.

 

I think Chuang Tzu would have agreed with you too.

 

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So interesting. I have never interpreted the words in this chapter to mean the sage was in any way unhappy or dissatisfied with his condition (quite the contrary actually)....  Just that he would appear so when viewed from the outside through the common cultural distortions and filters...

Edited by cheya
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1 hour ago, cheya said:

So interesting. I have never interpreted the words in this chapter to mean the sage was in any way unhappy or dissatisfied with his condition (quite the contrary actually)....  Just that he would appear so when viewed from the outside through the common cultural distortions and filters...

Its for you to decide whether the translation makes sense as it stands , or whether it needs adjustment.

I think it doesn't read , in these translations , that the Sage is just introverted or feels well rewarded for his alternate path. 

So this kind of translation is not taken all the way to the presentation of Meaning , in English , as its supposed to , if one is translating , from Chinese , TO English. 

You don't just stop when you think the Chinese is substituted with English letters.. that is BAD , a job half done ,IMO 

 

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The multitude of men look satisfied and pleased; as if enjoying a 
full banquet, as if mounted on a tower in spring. I alone seem 
listless and still,,,,,I alone 
am different from other men, but I value the nursing-mother

Vulgar people are clear. 
I alone am drowsy. .,,,
Everyone else is busy, 
But I alone am aimless and depressed.

The people of this world are steeped in their merrymaking as if gorging at a great feast or watching the sights of springtime
Yet here I sit, without a sign, staring blank-eyed like a child

But I'm abandoned and destitute,
an absolute simpleton, this mind of mine so utterly
muddled and blank.
but I'm inept, thoroughly useless and backward.

What the people fear, I cannot be unafraid
So desolate! 

 

These are excerpts from the text as you see it written ,right ? 
Anywhere else , not making presumptions about what is being said ,as being somehow positive,  and instead taken at face value in English,,, 
This Daoism is being presented in quite a negative light.

That is not me skewing the meaning , that's what they are indicating with their translation.
And despite me being entirely opposite of FH's views , regarding mysticism ,, he alone is on target for an English meaning ,as spoken in English, IMO

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Yeah, that's pretty pessimistic.  

 

And agree, FH's transmission has far less pessimism.

 

 

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And an after-thought:

 

We are here talking about the difference between living totally in yu as opposed to living totally in wu.  

 

Where's the middle path?  The harmony between yu and wu?

 

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I figure that is something you already presented, that nothing has meaning , and so everything has meaning . This ironic view can be applied to many ideas , but the crux is that wu and yu cannot be mutually exclusive. Thats the rule , Ya gots to have one,  to have the other , So the folks eating oxen are indulging in an illusion - partying in order to enjoy the reality of a party. There is no 'only' acting from a wu perspective , nor is there , 'only' acting from a yu perspective. 

IMO , what you get from certain realizations , is flexibility , clarity and a perspective which says that taking life lightly , whichever way you do that in fact IS the significant thing , and its entirely up to you. There is no cosmic validity to saying its wrong to be introspective, wrong to meditate , wrong to like heavy women. ,, Though , One Will have to live with the consequences , deal with the objective facts of natural laws , and societal mores etc and blah blah. 

There is a perennial conflict, for lack of the better word, between the needs of the individual and the needs of the collective community.. the best solutions are win-win, but there is also one sided winning , where only the individual sacrifices , and there's the version where only the individual benefits, etc . Depending on your upbringing , sacrifice may be considered highest virtue , and in another it may be considered stupidity. 

 

( so if one wants to describe it as such , the middle path is to recognize both yin and yang, wu and yu and strike the balance which is win win. )

Edited by Stosh
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What is this verse all about?

The first part is quite obvious and the next part is to do with self cultivation.

 

Then Li Erh goes to describe a bit about his feelings of how it is like to be nourished by the great way and not by the taste and desires of ordinary men.

 

He then describe how he would appear to others who look upon him who are still concerned with worldly desires.

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2 minutes ago, flowing hands said:

What is this verse all about?

The first part is quite obvious and the next part is to do with self cultivation.

 

Then Li Erh goes to describe a bit about his feelings of how it is like to be nourished by the great way and not by the taste and desires of ordinary men.

 

He then describe how he would appear to others who look upon him who are still concerned with worldly desires.

That's how it reads to me -- people may snicker at my yellow boots or the way I stop to save bugs or my lack of stress over "important" aspects of life but...

 

 

:D

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1 minute ago, Brian said:

That's how it reads to me -- people may snicker at my yellow boots or the way I stop to save bugs or my lack of stress over "important" aspects of life but...

 

 

:D

 

Good on you, I pick up snails that start to cross the road so that they won't get squashed, I'm afraid I love things too much to allow wu wei to happen!

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I don't do waves.  If they are breaking between my ankles and knees all is well.  Beyond that, I'm outa there.

 

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For verse 20...

 

It is the teaching of religious rules, and their morality that create the problems.

Honestly, is there truly a difference between concept of yes and no, between good and evil?

Do such concepts lead to anything other than fear? Simply drop all such nonsense.

People get caught with enjoying the feast of the world, constantly trying to climb higher in status,

But I instead drift in the wind, not caught up in attachments.

Like a newborn baby, even before it has attached to its mother,

with a clear mind and no home.
To others focused on worldly things, I appear confused and have nothing.

To those strong and brave, I appear slow and weak.

To those who are scholarly and intelligent, I appear muddled and stupid.
As I simply drift in sea of the Dao, I appear aimless, while others chase goals.

But that is not really the case, as I am constantly nourished by the great mother (ever more one with the Dao).
 

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So... Why are there any other chapters in this text? :)

 

Thanks Jeff and Flowing Hands for making this more accessible and even more profound.

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I think this is about a middle state of consciousness.. where one learns that they neither have nor not have..

 

Also about not striving to attain things.. just going with the flow of life is good enough..

 

Tao.

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