dawei

[DDJ Meaning] Chapter 29

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Legge 1891

29 
If any one should wish to get the kingdom for himself, and to 
effect this by what he does, I see that he will not succeed. The 
kingdom is a spirit-like thing, and cannot be got by active doing. He 
who would so win it destroys it; he who would hold it in his grasp 
loses it.

The course and nature of things is such that 
What was in front is now behind; 
What warmed anon we freezing find. 
Strength is of weakness oft the spoil; 
The store in ruins mocks our toil.

Hence the sage puts away excessive effort, extravagance, and easy 
indulgence. 

 

Chu Ta-Kao 1904
29

When a man is to take the world over and shape it, I see that he must be obliged to do it.
For the world is a divine vessel: It cannot be shaped; Nor can it be insisted upon. He who shapes it damages it; He who insists upon it loses it.
Therefore the Sage does not shape it, so he does not damage it; 'He does not insist upon it, so be does not lose it. 'For, among all things, some go ahead, while others lag behind; Some keep their mouth shut, while others give forth puffs; Some are strong, while others are weak; Some are on the cart, while others fall off.
Therefore the Sage avoids excess, extravagance and indulgence.

 

David Hinton
29

Longing to take hold of all beneath heaven and improve it...
I've seen such dreams invariably fail.
All beneath heaven is a sacred vessel,
something beyond all improvement.
Try to improve it and you ruin it.
Try to hold it and you lose it.
For things sometimes lead and sometimes follow,
sometimes sigh and sometimes storm,
sometimes strengthen and sometimes weaken,
sometimes kill and sometimes die.
And so the sage steers clear of extremes, clear of extravagance, clear of exaltation.

 

Derek Lin 1994
29
Those who wish to take the world and control it
I see that they cannot succeed
The world is a sacred instrument
One cannot control it
The one who controls it will fail
The one who grasps it will lose
Because all things:
Either lead or follow
Either blow hot or cold
Either have strength or weakness
Either have ownership or take by force
Therefore the sage:
Eliminates extremes
Eliminates excess
Eliminates arrogance

There are those who want to meddle with the world, or the environment. They want to control it, manipulate it, and interfere with it.
What I observe is that they cannot possibly achieve what they desire. The world is a sacred thing, beyond the insignificant power of mere mortals.
None of us can control the world. Those who try will fail, and those who hang on to it and refuse to let go will still lose their grip.
In nature, all things live in balance with one another. Some of them lead while others follow. Some blow air to impart warmth, while others do so to cool things down. Some are strong, while others are weak. Some occupy their own niche in the environment, while others survive by force and violence.
Because the Tao is all about balance, the sage, seeking to emulate nature, will seek the same balance through moderation. He or she will elminate from his or her life anything that is extreme or intemperate. The sage will also avoid any excess or wasteful extravagance. And lastly, the sage will let go of thoughts and behaviors that are arrogant or ego-driven.

 

Ellen Marie Chen 1989
29
One who desires to take the world and act (wei) upon it,
I see that it cannot be done.
The world (t'ien hsia) is a spirit vessel (shen ch'i),
Which cannot be acted (wei) upon.
One who acts (wei) on it fails,
One who holds on to it loses (shih).
Therefore things either move forward or follow behind;
They blow hot or blow cold;
They are strong (ch'iang) or weak;
They get on or they get off.
Therefore the sage gets rid of over-doing,
Gets rid of extravagances,
Gets rid of excesses.

 

Witter Bynner
29
Those who would take over the earth
And shape it to their will
Never, I notice, succeed.
The earth is like a vessel so sacred
That at the mere approach of the profane
It is marred
And when they reach out their fingers it is gone.
For a time in the world some force themselves ahead
And some are left behind,
For a time in the world some make a great noise
And some are held silent,
For a time in the world some are puffed fat
And some are kept hungry,
For a time in the world some push aboard
And some are tipped out:
At no time in the world will a man who is sane
Over-reach himself,
Over-spend himself,
Over-rate himself.

 

Flowing Hands
29
Do you think you can take over the Universe and then improve it?
It can never be done.
The Universe is sacred, it can never be improved.
If you try to change it, you will ruin it.
If you try to possess it, you will only lose it.
In the Ten Thousand Things, as well as man,
one never feels quite the same everyday.
So, sometimes things are ahead and sometimes behind.
Sometimes breathing becomes difficult, sometimes it is easy.
Sometimes there is strength and sometimes there is weakness.
Sometimes one feels up and cheerful, but sometimes one feels down.
This is natural; for we are all subject to the Heavenly bodies that influence our lives.
The Sage experiences these as well as ordinary men, for he is one of the Ten Thousand
Things.

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This one is also interesting to me.  As it points out of how a Sage is part of the world and experiences things...

 

4 hours ago, dawei said:

...
So, sometimes things are ahead and sometimes behind.
Sometimes breathing becomes difficult, sometimes it is easy.
Sometimes there is strength and sometimes there is weakness.
Sometimes one feels up and cheerful, but sometimes one feels down.
This is natural; for we are all subject to the Heavenly bodies that influence our lives.
The Sage experiences these as well as ordinary men, for he is one of the Ten Thousand
Things.

 

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On 2/21/2018 at 6:54 AM, dawei said:

Legge 1891

29 


The kingdom is a spirit-like thing, and cannot be got by active doing.

 

Chu Ta-Kao 1904
29


For the world is a divine vessel: It cannot be shaped; 

 

David Hinton
29

All beneath heaven is a sacred vessel,
something beyond all improvement.

 

Derek Lin 1994
29

The world is a sacred instrument

One cannot control it

 

Ellen Marie Chen 1989
29

The world (t'ien hsia) is a spirit vessel (shen ch'i),
Which cannot be acted (wei) upon.

 

Witter Bynner
29

The earth is like a vessel so sacred
That at the mere approach of the profane
It is marred

 

Flowing Hands
29


The Universe is sacred, it can never be improved.

 

Some chapters have a kind of litmus test of a line or 3... here is mine for this chapter:

 

The simple words of a profound idea shown by Ta-Kao and Flowing Hands...

 

What I have always liked about Ta-Kao (ok, I'm plugging his translation) is that for a guy who wrote this in 1904, he has no distractions from academic craze of translations in modern day nor all the unearthed texts that came later... 

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The world is a game , just a set of rules , which can't be broken.

No matter what you manifest,  you will be in conformance. 

Therefore the sage plays his part , so that his life sucks least.

Stosh

Edited by Stosh
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I think the concept of Ziran need be considered when talking about this.  No matter what man does Ziran will continue to rule.

 

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1 minute ago, Marblehead said:

I think the concept of Ziran need be considered when talking about this.  No matter what man does Ziran will continue to rule.

 

Whos he?

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5 minutes ago, Marblehead said:

He's the guy who said you have to follow your true nature else you will die an untimely death.

 

Well , since one wants a timely death,  what does he say ones true nature is?

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14 minutes ago, Stosh said:

Well , since one wants a timely death,  what does he say ones true nature is?

All are different.  We all are special and unique.  One must find one's own true nature.

 

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Just now, Marblehead said:

All are different.  We all are special and unique.  One must find one's own true nature.

 

Where will it be , or , how do you find it , according to Mr Ziran .  ? 

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16 minutes ago, Stosh said:

Where will it be , or , how do you find it , according to Mr Ziran .  ? 

The truth can be found only from within.  (Some call this soul searching.)  (It's not an easy task because we must first question everything that has been taught us from the beginning of our life until now.  Then we must discard all we have learned that is not a reflection of our true self.)

 

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Just now, Marblehead said:

The truth can be found only from within.  (Some call this soul searching.)  (It's not an easy task because we must first question everything that has been taught us from the beginning of our life until now.  Then we must discard all we have learned that is not a reflection of our true self.)

 

I see. How is it that you feel the concept of ziran relates to the chapter cited in the OP?

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6 minutes ago, Stosh said:

I see. How is it that you feel the concept of ziran relates to the chapter cited in the OP?

Excellent question.  I hope I am able to respond in a logical and effective manner.

 

I will use Ellen's translation:

 

One who desires to take the world and act (wei) upon it,
I see that it cannot be done.
The world (t'ien hsia) is a spirit vessel (shen ch'i),
Which cannot be acted (wei) upon.

 

Ziran suggests that the world will follow its own true nature.  Sure, we can act upon it and even make changes to some small aspects of it but it will in turn seek harmony and balance by adjusting to the changes we have made.  Sometimes it will destroy what we have done and other times it will find another course of least resistance.

 

Like the levees we build along the Mississippi; enough rain and the waters will always breach the levees.  The areas beyond the normal river are called the flood plains.  They get flooded.

 

Earth was created before man was created.  Man always follows Earth.  As the Earth is more supreme we must consider it as being more spiritual than Man.

 

 

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12 minutes ago, Marblehead said:

Excellent question.  I hope I am able to respond in a logical and effective manner.

 

I will use Ellen's translation:

 

One who desires to take the world and act (wei) upon it,
I see that it cannot be done.
The world (t'ien hsia) is a spirit vessel (shen ch'i),
Which cannot be acted (wei) upon.

 

Ziran suggests that the world will follow its own true nature.  Sure, we can act upon it and even make changes to some small aspects of it but it will in turn seek harmony and balance by adjusting to the changes we have made.  Sometimes it will destroy what we have done and other times it will find another course of least resistance.

 

Like the levees we build along the Mississippi; enough rain and the waters will always breach the levees.  The areas beyond the normal river are called the flood plains.  They get flooded.

 

Earth was created before man was created.  Man always follows Earth.  As the Earth is more supreme we must consider it as being more spiritual than Man.

 

 

Thank you , that's rather interesting , maybe we can revisit this later and investigate it more thoroughly . Is this a good break point? or is there more that needs to be said at this time...

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14 minutes ago, Marblehead said:

Ziran suggests that the world will follow its own true nature.

 

And when that is mentioned it is almost impossible not to bring in its bed-fellow, Wu Wei... the chapter is yet another reminder that doing less is doing more.

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1 minute ago, Stosh said:

Thank you , that's rather interesting , maybe we can revisit this later and investigate it more thoroughly . Is this a good break point? or is there more that needs to be said at this time...

Sure, it's a good break point.  And, as always, I am willing to speak more about almost any topic if I am questioned regarding my understandings.

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4 minutes ago, dawei said:

 

And when that is mentioned it is almost impossible not to bring in its bed-fellow, Wu Wei... the chapter is yet another reminder that doing less is doing more.

Indeed.  We can suggest that when Ziran is in harmony it is in the state of wu wei.

 

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On 3/7/2018 at 4:26 PM, dawei said:

What I have always liked about Ta-Kao

Well, it appears.that I am going to have to investigate Ta-Kao.  I like the expression of DDJ29 very much. I see what you mean by distractions of acedemic craze. His manner of expression seems very relaxed and natural - without pretense.

 

This chapter came to mind last night rather vividly in response to something else I was reading. I came here looking for different takes on the first lines. My feeling was that it is speaking of those who would seek to bend or manipulate, as per Lin. That such efforts can cause damage in the world but the Dao will ultimateely seek to rebalance itself. The advice of wuwei seems especially applicable to.this chapter. 

 

Thanks a bunch!

Edited by OldDog
I have a lazy thumb that often inserts a period rather than a space. Ofter requiring me to correct.
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17 hours ago, OldDog said:

Well, it appears.that I am going to have to investigate Ta-Kao.  I like the expression of DDJ29 very much. I see what you mean by distractions of acedemic craze. His manner of expression seems very relaxed and natural - without pretense.

 

This chapter came to mind last night rather vividly in response to something else I was reading. I came here looking for different takes on the first lines. My feeling was that it is speaking of those who would seek to bend or manipulate, as per Lin. That such efforts can cause damage in the world but the Dao will ultimateely seek to rebalance itself. The advice of wuwei seems especially applicable to.this chapter. 

 

Thanks a bunch!

 

Shall we say an Old Dog can learn new tricks ?  :P

 

Yes, I would keep him in mind among your list of references.  Like Flowing Hands... the fluidity of a translation/transmission seems to fit with Laozi's original meaning and purpose.

 

For this chapter, one phrase comes to mind: Less is best.  

 

 

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Chapter 29 is foundational for me. I'm a fan of philosophy, and also read many continental philosophers. I've been exploring the concepts of agency and autonomy, and the ddj provides a great framework for understanding these. Trying to escape dualism, I've clung on to pluralism, specifically naturalistic holistic pluralism — which is really just another way of saying "philosophical daoism".

 

I should place a disclaimer: I'm a daoist who interprets wuwei not as non-action, but as non-coercive action. But I'd be happy to debate this.


One Western field that's really grabbed my attention is s-called actant-network-theory (ANT). Through my studies of daoism and ANT, I've noted the following:

 

Quote

 

Agency is a way of describing the capacity of actants to act and change a state of relations. An actant can be anything, or any concept, including, but not limited to, nonhumans and humans. Actants have capacities unique to themselves that influence the development of other systems (also called networks or worknets) by enacting relations, and enrolling other actants. Structure is the way a systems own immanent dynamics are arranged and interact. It influences and can determine the conditions of operating for an actant or worknet. Desires, ambition, and the agency of non-anomalous individual actants are not usually enough to shape the life-world by themselves. Agency can not even be accurately comprehended through the near-sightedness of individual desires and ambition. Things happen because of the infinitely fractal actant worknets that make up the life-world worknet. Each actant plays their own unique but critical role. (Zhachev 2018)

 

Thoughts?

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29
Do you think you can take over the 
universe and improve it?
I do not believe it can be done.


The universe is sacred.
You cannot improve it.
If you try to change it, you will ruin it.
If you try to hold it, you will lose it.


So sometimes things are ahead and 
sometimes they are behind;

 

Sometimes breathing is hard, 
sometimes it comes easily;
Sometimes there is strength and 
sometimes weakness;
Sometimes one is up and sometimes 
down.


Therefore the sage avoids extremes, 
excesses, and complacency.

 

Gia Fu Feng

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I thought this part was very important.

 

"Sometimes one feels up and cheerful, but sometimes one feels down.
This is natural; for we are all subject to the Heavenly bodies that influence our lives.
The Sage experiences these as well as ordinary men, for he is one of the Ten Thousand
Things. "

 

Even a Sage still has obstructions.. the road never really ends.

Edited by Jonesboy

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Here is my preferred translation, an amalgam:


29. Ambition
 

Quote

 

Those who wish to change the world
According with their desire
Cannot succeed.


The world is shaped by the Way;
It cannot be shaped by the self.
Trying to change it, you damage it;
Trying to possess it, you lose it.


So some will lead, while others follow.
Some will be warm, others cold
Some will be strong, others weak.
Some will get where they are going
While others fall by the side of the road.

 

The follower of the Way experiences these as well as ordinary people do, for they are one of the Ten Thousand
Things.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Zhachev
formatting

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