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Chapter 1 Mawangdui B version

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Mawangdui B chapter 1


dao4 ke3 dao4 ye3

a-Dao admissible Dao (pause)

fei1 heng2 dao4 ye3

isn't constant a-Dao (pause)

ming2 ke3 ming2 ye3

a-name admissible name (pause)

fei1 heng2 ming2 ye3

isn't constant a-name (pause)

wu2 ming2 wan4 wu4 zhi1 shi3 ye3

without a-name ten-thousand things go-to conception (pause)

you3 ming2 wan4 wu4 zhi1 mu3 ye3

with a-name ten-thousand things go-to breast-feeding (pause)

gu4 heng2 wu2 yu4 yi3 guan1 qi2 miao3

therefore constant without desire because-of observing the secret

heng2 you3 yu4 yi3 guan1 qi2 suo3 jiao4

constant with desire because-of observing the that-which cry

liang3 zhe3 tong2 chu1

pair these together to-appear

yi4 ming2 tong2 wei4

strange names are together the-stomach

xuan2 zhi1 you4 xuan2

darkness + its existing darkness

zhong4 miao3 zhi1 men2

multitude secrets go-to the-opening


The first four lines of the Dao De Jing chapter 1 are like the mohist distinctions (bian1).

The four mohist terms are ke3 admissible, bu4 ke3 not admissible, shi2 right, fei1 wrong.


ming2 ke3 ming2

a name admissible name

shi2 heng2 ming2

is a constant name


The distinction above tells something about the way I treat heng2 constant in my translation.

The phrase constant observing is used in both the lines 7 and 8. Someone observing is you3 existing,

but is able to observe both wu2 not existing and you3 existing according to the lines 7 and 8.

Therefore is constant you3 existing according to the terms of the lines 5 and 6.

These two corresponding distinctions explain in other words:


you3 ke3 ming2

an existence admissible name

shi2 you3 you3

is an existing existence


you3 ke3 ming2

an existence admissible name

fei1 wu2 you3

isn't a not existing existence


That's why translations like "isn't the constant name" and "isn't the constant Dao" are fei1 wrong.

That's why translations like "isn't constant the name" and "isn't constant the Dao" are shi2 right.



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