dawei

[DDJ Meaning] Chapter 21

Recommended Posts

Legge

 

21 
The grandest forms of active force 
From Tao come, their only source. 
Who can of Tao the nature tell? 
Our sight it flies, our touch as well. 
Eluding sight, eluding touch, 
The forms of things all in it crouch; 
Eluding touch, eluding sight, 
There are their semblances, all right. 
Profound it is, dark and obscure; 
Things' essences all there endure. 
Those essences the truth enfold 
Of what, when seen, shall then be told. 
Now it is so; 'twas so of old. 
Its name--what passes not away; 
So, in their beautiful array, 
Things form and never know decay.

How know I that it is so with all the beauties of existing things? By 
this (nature of the Tao). 

 

Lau

 

21 
In his every movement a man of great virtue 
Follows the way and the way only.

As a thing the way is 
Shadowy and indistinct. 
Indistinct and shadowy, 
Yet within it is an image; 
Shadowy and indistinct, 
Yet within it is a substance. 
Dim and dark, 
Yet within it is an essence. 
This essence is quite genuine 
And within it is something that can be tested.

From the present back to antiquity, 
Its name never deserted it. 
It serves as a means for inspecting the fathers of the multitude.

How do I know that the fathers of the multitude are like that? 
By means of this. 


Feng/English

 

21
The greatest Virtue is to follow Tao and Tao alone. 
The Tao is elusive and intangible. 
Oh, it is intangible and elusive, and yet within is image. 
Oh, it is elusive and intangible, and yet within is form. 
Oh, it is dim and dark, and yet within is essence. 
This essence is very real, and therein lies faith. 
From the very beginning until now its name has never been forgotten. 
Thus I perceive the creation. 
How do I know the ways of creation? 
Because of this.


Jonathan Star

 

21
Perfect action,
Rue virtue,
Supreme power,
This is how the Tao is revealed through those who follow it completely
Though formless and intangible
It gives rise to form
Though vague and elusive
It gives rise to shapes
Though dark and obscure
It is the spirit, the essence, the life-breath of all things
?But is it real?? you ask ?
I say its evidence is all of creation!
From the first moment to the present
The Name has been sounding
It is the gate through which the universe enters
The witness by which the universe sees
How have I come to know all this?
That the very Name has told me,
That Name which is sounding tight here, right now

 

 

Flowing Hands

 

21  
The greatest virtue is to follow the Dao and only Dao. 
Oh unfathomable Dao, ever elusive and intangible. 
But yet within, there is substance and form. 
It is the essence of the Ten Thousand Things. 
This is very real, so here lies a true path to follow. 
It was there at the beginning, as it shall be at the end, Thus I know the ways of creation. 
 

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me, this speaks more to Tzujan than it speaks to Dao.  That is, the processes of the universe.  There are natural processes throughout the universe - cause and effect.  And they really aren't elusive and intangible - they are processes we can observe if we take the time to do so without adding any subjective opinions.

 

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here are some thoughts on chapter 21...

 

While the Tao is elusive to realize,

Anything else is simply an intermediate state.

While hard to find, it is in all mental constructs.

While hard to catch, it is in every object.

While hard to see, it is in every sight or sound.

It is the essence of all and the basis of 10,000 things.

It has always been that if you realize this, 

You will know the ways of all creation.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This stresses the illusiveness 

 

the essence

 

some of the translations stress the perfect following:  Johnathan Star: " perfect action" "supreme power" "those who follow it completely"

Lau: "In his every movement a man of great virtue 
Follows the way and the way only"

 

The "perfect following" is not perfect - it is not linear - it is not even a following - it is an unfolding.

 

the light of essence will be revealed in never ending patience and everlasting endurance / acceptance.

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Spotless said:

The "perfect following" is not perfect - it is not linear - it is not even a following - it is an unfolding.

 

Again, worthy of repeating.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This seems a Form = Void chapter.

 

Without looking at the original, I can't find a translation among 50 reviewed, that completely captures it.

 

Flowing Hands three lines is the essences:

 

Oh unfathomable Dao, ever elusive and intangible. 
But yet within, there is substance and form. 
It is the essence of the Ten Thousand Things. 

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5-9-2017 at 7:20 AM, dawei said:

This seems a Form = Void chapter.

 

Without looking at the original, I can't find a translation among 50 reviewed, that completely captures it.

 

Flowing Hands three lines is the essences:

 

Oh unfathomable Dao, ever elusive and intangible. 
But yet within, there is substance and form. 
It is the essence of the Ten Thousand Things.

 

I wondered whether this chapter should be considered to point at some esoteric practice by which one could get a sort of "behind the scene" view of the operations of the universe. But then again may be the idea simply might be that the whole wonderful world of the ten thousand things is already implicit in the Tao considered as the laws of nature. Or might that be too much of a modern distortion of the ancient meaning?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, wandelaar said:

 

I wondered whether this chapter should be considered to point at some esoteric practice by which one could get a sort of "behind the scene" view of the operations of the universe. But then again may be the idea simply might be that the whole wonderful world of the ten thousand things is already implicit in the Tao considered as the laws of nature. Or might that be too much of a modern distortion of the ancient meaning?

 

Curiously enough, Heshang Gong named this chapter, "Emptiness in the Heart" and Wang Bi on the first two  lines says "The greatest is also the emptiest. Only if one takes emptiness as one's virtue can one act in accord with the Way"

 

Yet, 'emptiness' is not a character in the chapter :)

 

Other notes by WB:

 

Having no form it brings them into being - without attachment it brings them towards completion. All the ten- thousand things are brought into being and completion in this way, yet we cannot know why.

 

It is 'unclear and indistinct’; this expresses its depth and distance. Because of its depth and distance it is never possible for it to be visible. But through it all the ten-thousand creatures are made visible and its reality determined.

 

When you reach the ultimate point of reality it can never be given a name. 'The nameless' is its proper name. But from the beginning of time to the present, there it nothing that has not depended upon it for completion.

 

By looking at what is stated above. Laozi means, how do I know that all the ten-thousand things are brought into being out of non-being? I know it by looking at what is stated above.

 

- Tr.  R. Bertschinger

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

  • Verse Twenty One

 

The quality that accomplishes everything 

 lives in a hole that the path goes past.

The path is because things are.

The mind reels, it gets confused.

I can’t make it out.

I can’t tell what it is.

It could even be an elephant,

Or just about anything else.

It’s indistinct, vague but there is something there.

Deep! Deeper than you expected,

Deep! Quiet, amazingly quiet.

It has a lot of fine detail

It has so much detail, 

It is tempting to assume

 that it must mean something.

From ancient times until now, 

the wise rule to follow is 

not what people in general think.

I can’t keep up with the trends -

 Oh well, I guess I just miss out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is deeply pith wisdom that most, including translators, are just NOT going to get. This is the same ground that the Heart Sutra of Mahayana Buddhism covers. To wit:

 

 

Form is none other than emptiness, Emptiness none other than form.

Form is only emptiness, Emptiness only form. 
Feeling, thought, and choice, Consciousness itself, 


Are the same as this. - Buddha, Heart Sutra

 

All forms are sensation arising where it arises, belonging to no object, but instead to a unity that is not separate from the illusion of the "self" that seemingly perceives it, yet the illusion of a universe of separate things persists on this ground of being empty of things. To see this in every moment, in every "thing" is not only resting in the Tao, but enlightenment. 

 

As the Tsin Tsin Ming says:

 

Those who do not understand the Way
will assert or deny the reality of things.
Deny the reality of things, you miss its deeper reality;
Assert the reality of things, you miss the emptiness of all things. -Tsin Tsin Ming, 
Seng T'san

 

This comfortable resting in "don't know" is the deepest understanding.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites