[DDJ Meaning] Chapter 67

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David Hinton 2002

People throughout all beneath heaven say
my Tao is so vast it's like nothing at all.
But it's only vast because it's like nothing at all:
if it were like anything else
it would have long since become trifling.
There are three treasures
I hold and nurture:
The first is called compassion,
the second economy,
and the third never daring to lead all beneath heaven.
Courage comes of compassion, generosity comes of economy,
and commanding leadership comes of never daring to lead all beneath heaven.
But these days it's all courage without compassion, generosity without economy, and leading without following.
There's nothing but death in that.
To overcome, attack with compassion.
To stand firm, defend with compassion.
Whatever heaven sustains it shelters with compassion.



Dwight Goddard 1919

All the world calls Tao great, yet it is by nature immaterial. It is because a thing is seemingly unreal that it is great. If a man affects to be great, how long can he conceal his mediocrity?

Tao has three treasures which he guards and cherishes. The first is called compassion; the second is called economy; the third is called humility. A man that is compassionate can 'be truly brave; if a man is economical he can be generous; if he is humble he can become a useful servant.

If one discards compassion and is still brave, abandons economy and is still generous, forsakes humility and still seeks to be serviceable, his days are numbered. On the contrary if one is truly compassionate, in battle he will be a conqueror and in defence he will be secure. When even Heaven helps people it is because of compassion that she does so.



Bradford Hatcher 2005

Everyone in the world admits our way is great
(And) resembles no likeness
It is insofar as it is great
That it resembles no likeness
Had it a likeness
Surely after so long
It might have diminished a little
Here I have three treasures
Take and keep them safe:
The first, call compassion
The second, call economy
The third, call never presuming to act as the world’s leader
Compassion confers a capacity for courage
Economy confers a capacity for breadth
Never presuming to act as the world’s leader
confers a capacity to develop enduring talents
To right away set aside compassion
in order to be more courageous
To set aside economy in order to be more expansive
To set aside following in order to be more advanced
Is truly deadly
Now compassion used in combat means triumph
Used in defense means security
Those whom heaven would redeem
With compassion it protects them


Wing-Tsit Chan 1963

All the world says that my Tao is great and does not seem to resemble (the ordinary). It is precisely because it is great that it does not resemble (the ordinary). If it did resemble, it would have been small for a long time. 
I have three treasures. Guard and keep them: The first is deep love, The second is frugality, And the third is not to dare to be ahead of the world. 
Because of deep love, one is courageous. Because of frugality, one is generous. Because of not daring to be ahead of the world, one becomes the leader of the world. 
Now, to be courageous by forsaking deep love, To be generous by forsaking frugality, And to be ahead of the world by forsaking following behind - This is fatal. 
For deep love helps one to win in the case of attack, And to be firm in the case of defense. When Heaven is to save a person, Heaven will protect him through deep love. 


Gu Zhengku 1993


The whole world says that my Tao is great,
Resembling nothing concrete,
Resembling nothing concrete,
Just because it is great.
If it resembled anything concrete,
It would have long become minute.
I have three magic weapons
Which I hold and treasure:
The first is mercy;
The second is thrift;
The third is unwillingness to take the lead in the world.
Being merciful, one can be brave;
Being thrifty, one can be generous;
Being unwilling to take the lead in the world, one can become the leader of the world.
Now seeking bravery by giving up mercy,
Seeking generosity by giving up thrift,
Seeking advance by giving up retreat,
One is bound to end in death.
Being merciful, one will triumph in the offensive
And be impregnable in defense.
If heaven wants to save one,
It must save him with mercy.


Ch'u Ta-Kao 1904

All the world says to me: 'Great as Tao is, it resembles no description (form).' Because it is great, therefore it resembles no description. If it resembled any description it would have long since become small.
I have three treasures, which I hold and keep safe:
The first is called love;
The second is called moderation;
The third is called not venturing to go ahead of the world.
Being loving, one can be brave;
Being moderate, one can be ample;
Not venturing to go ahead of the world, one can become the chief of all officials.
Instead of love, one has only bravery;
Instead of moderation, one has only amplitude;
Instead of keeping behind, one goes ahead:
These lead to nothing but death.
For he who fights with love will win the battle;
He who defends with love will be secure.
Heaven will save him, and protect him with love.



Flowing Hands 1987
All under Heaven say that my Dao is beyond compare.
Because it is different, it has lasted a long time.
I have three treasures which I keep in my heart.
The first is mercy, the second is economy, and the third is being at one with the Dao.
From mercy springs life and strength.
From economy comes generosity.
From the Dao comes the knowledge of all things.
Today men shun mercy and take life without care.
They abandon economy and seek to enrich themselves.
They do not know of or follow the Dao, and so
they are naive of the ways of all things.
Having compassion and strength and knowing the way of all things,
Heaven knows how to act.

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This is one of the most mentioned  but again, no takers.. so let's start it.


The three Treasures !


While most are trying to translate, I find Flowing Hands says a direct point on the last very difficult of the three... why difficult ?


Most who study the chinese are confronted with a very non parallel pattern of characters for the three traits

1. One word:  Compassion, mercy, love

2. One word: Economy, frugality, thrift 

3. Six words: Only Goddard is trying a single word, 'humility'. 


So while most try a direct translation, 'not to dare to be ahead of the world' (Chan) , 


Flowing Hands says, 'being at one with the Dao'


Who would of thought that not to dare to be...  is to be one with the Dao  :)


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Yeah, who wooda thought?


Well, I still prefer "Humility".


And while most of our members would question it, I do try to practice humility.


The Christians need ten commandments.  Lao Tzu covered it with three words of guidance.




Edited by Marblehead
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The three treasures can also be translated as...


Compassion - Open heart, which is the beginning of feeling energy and all higher states.

Economy, frugality - of “mind”, quieting of mind leads greater clarity and connecting to all at higher states.

Humility - Dropping or emptiness of individual self - beginning of “light level” and the possible formation of the “golden child”.

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1 hour ago, Jeff said:

The three treasures can also be translated as...

Exactly.  Although I prefer Conservative over Economy.  For me it better defines the concept.


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  • Verse Sixty Seven


I have three treasures which I cherish.


One is called compassion. Kindness, pity,



The second is called thrift. Cheapness. 

The ability to travel far

On a shoestring.


The third is called not daring to be

First under Heaven.


The kind develop the ability

To be brave.


The thrifty

Develop the ability

To be expansive.


Not daring to be first under heaven

Develops the ability to survive

And thrive.


Show your kindness and your courage.

Show that you are cheap

And generous. 

Show that you are not afraid

To be the next to die!


Win the war by kindness.

With solid observation, discern 

Where the protection of Heaven 

Provides a merciful haven.


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