[DDJ Meaning] Chapter 46

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David Hinton 2002


When all beneath heaven abides in Way, fast horses are kept to work the fields.
When all beneath heaven forgets Way, war horses are bred among the fertility altars.
What calamity is greater than no contentment, and what flaw greater than the passion for gain?
The contentment of fathoming contentment - there lies the contentment that endures.



Chad Hansen 2009


When the social world has a guide 
We turn back fast horses in order to fertilize. 
When the social world lacks a guide 
War horses are produced in the suburbs. 
Among bad omens, none is greater than not knowing to 'sufficient.' 
Among evils, none is greater than desiring 'getting.' 
Hence, knowing to 'sufficient' is sufficient 
for constant sufficiency. 


Moss Roberts 2001


When the Way prevails below the sky
Disbanded chargers dung the lad;
But when the Way the world deserts
War horses breed outside the towns.
No crime exceeds desire sanctioned,
No woe is worse than discontent,
No omen more dire than desire gained.
Truly with few wants content,
Contentment lasts as long as life.



Lok Sang Ho 2002


When things under heaven follow the Dao,
Horses will roam freely,
and their droppings will be found anywhere.
When things under heaven have departed from the Dao,
The horses will be reared in special stables away from the city.
No wrong is greater than having objects to crave for.
No disaster is greater than not knowing one’s true needs.
No greater ill is invited than by craving to possess.
Thus, the satisfaction from knowing one’s true needs and asking for no more is eternal. 



Gu Zhengku 1993


When the Tao prevails in the world,
The battle steeds are returned to farmers for tilling the fields;
When the Tao does not prevail in the world,
Even pregnant mares are taken over for wars.
No crime is greater than greediness;
No disaster is greater than the lack of contentment;
Thus the contentment of feeling content
Is an eternal contentment.


Lin Yutang 1948

When the world lives in accord with Tao, 
Racing horses are turned back to haul refuse carts. 
When the world lives not in accord with Tao, 
Cavalry abounds in the countryside.

There is no greater curse than the lack of contentment. 
No greater sin than the desire for possession. 
Therefore he who is contented with contentment 
   shall be always content.



Flowing Hands 1987


When the Dao is present in the Universe, horses pull the plough and linger leisurely in the
When the Dao is forgotten, horses abandon their ploughs and perform military exercises.
There is no greater sin than greed and desire.
No greater curse than discontentment.
No greater misfortune than wanting something for oneself.
Therefore the man who knows he has sufficient,
will always be forever contented.

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When the Tao is present in the universe,
The horses haul manure.
When the Tao is absent from the universe,
War horses are bred outside the city.

There is no greater sin than desire,
No greater curse than discontent,
No greater misfortune than wanting 
something for oneself.
Therefore he who knows that enough 
is enough will always have enough.



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I am feeling very poetic this morning. So Hinton's rendering has great appeal.


In the Ho-Shang Kung Commentary, Dan Reid translates the idea of contentment as knowing sufficiency; misfortune as not recognizing sufficiency. 

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  • Verse Forty Six


When everything under the sky

Is following the pathway, 

There’s a little horse shit all over town.


When events are not following the pathway,

War horses are bred in the suburbs.


The big crime is wanting things you don’t need.


It’s a far worse disaster than 

Not having what you do need.


No blame for anything but wanting.


Know when enough is enough, often enough.


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