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Switch to Forum Live View Dao De Jing discussions: Ch. 67
10 years ago  ::  Jan 30, 2008 - 11:10PM #1
MengTzu
Posts: 110
I want to start a series of DDJ discussions.  I'll probably end up the only writing anything, but that's fine, as long as it keeps the forum alive and hopefully attracts more people.

I'm starting with ch. 67, for no other reason than that it is one of my favorite chapters.

First, a translation by yours truly:

Dao De Jing 67

All in the world say that my Dao is great,
That it does not seem to bear resemblance to anything.
Because it is so great,
It therefore does not bear resemblance to anything.
If it does bear any resemblance to anything,
Then it has always been insignificant!
I have three treasures,
Which I carry and treasure.
The first is called Compassion;
The second is called Conservatism;
The third is called “not putting oneself before the world”
With Compassion, one can be courageous;
With Conservatism, one can be generous;
Without putting oneself before the world, one can become the greatest of all creatures.
If now, one abandons Compassion but is courageous,
Abandons Conservatism but is generous,
And abandons being last but puts oneself before the world,
One will find death!
Therefore, this is Compassion:
With it one can battle and prevail,
And defend oneself firmly.
Heaven will save him/her,
And protects him/her with Compassion.

Note that Conservatism has absolutely, absolutely nothing to do with being conservative or "right-wing".  I avoided the words "thriftiness" and "frugality" as they don't express the idea sufficiently.  The idea is to not use more than is needed -- nature needs to be conserved.  It's almost inevitable that we utilize things in nature, but the least we can do is to use as little of it as possible.  It is by conserving that we can spare more -- to achieve generosity.  The word here "guang," which is more accurately translated "vast."  I chose "generosity" as I think it explains meaning and its the context better, so I did a bit of interpretative translation there.  But "vast" certainly also works: by conserving, our resources become vast and abundant.

The same goes for utilizing our energy -- conserving energy allows us to achieve peace and longevity.

Please feel free to join the discussion!
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 13, 2008 - 2:19PM #2
sensoryfusion
Posts: 13
Your translation is an interesting contrast to the translation of John C.H. Wu.

Both translations are colored by popular American English connotations of conservatism and queer. I like your use of insignificant which has more impact than Wu's use of small. I favor, though, Wu's choice of frugality which suggests to me a more personal knowledge and choice to do more with less; while also flowing together conceptually with the concept of generosity. Wu's hold fast and watch over closely seems interesting in light of your more practical carry and treasure. I like Wu's option of courting death over your find death. But I find your usage of greatest of all creatures much more accessible than Wu's chief of all vessels. Likewise, your use of puts oneself before the world is also more accessible than Wu's daring to be first in the world. But I favor his option for the mixed usage of first and third person Because I am.. with If a man... to your usage of solely third person for the immediacy of Wu's choice.

Wu's option for mercy is what reigns for me, not only because of the pop-culture distorted reference of 'compassionate conservative', but mercy is so rarely used as something within people's capabilities. Not only that, the impact of the last statement is much more bold and daring with the choice of mercy.

Thanks for the post!

ALL the world says that my Tao is great, but seems
queer, like nothing on earth. But it is just because
my Tao is great that it is like nothing on earth! If it were
like anything on earth, how small it would have been
from the very beginning!

I have Three Treasures, which I hold fast and watch
over closely. The first is Mercy. The second is Frugality.
The third is Not Daring to Be First in the World.

Because I am merciful, therefore I can be brave. Because I am
frugal, therefore I can be generous. Because I dare not
be first, therefore I can be the chief of all vessels.

If a man wants to be brave without first being
merciful, generous without first being frugal, a leader
without first wishing to follow, he is only courting
death!

Mercy alone can help you to win a war. Mercy alone
can help you to defend your state. For Heaven will
come to the rescue of the merciful, and protect him
with its Mercy.
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 14, 2008 - 2:45PM #3
MengTzu
Posts: 110
Thanks for the comments.

"Holding fast" is a much better translation than my "carrying."  I also agree that "Courting death" sounds better than "finding death."  Note that in the ancient Chinese that the Dao De Jing was written in, the sentence simply has two words: death, followed by a word that has no meaning but is often used to end a sentence.  Ancient Chinese was characteristically short and curt like that.

Regarding compassion v. mercy: the word "compassion" seems more liberal than conservative to me, though in reality, it has nothing to do with liberalism or conservatism.  I used compassion other than mercy because compassion seems to connote empathy, a heartfelt sense of commiseration for the suffering of others, which fits the Chinese word "Ci" better.
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 15, 2008 - 9:22PM #4
koala972
Posts: 879
I like to keep it simple.  Instead of the fanciful 'courting death' which implies all sorts of non-simple relationships between you, these things and death, I much prefer the more earthy 'death goes with these'.  Then I can concentrate on associating the things with death instead of for example dragging unconscious pictures of courting and marriage into it. 

but that is just me.  Se la vie...
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 20, 2008 - 11:13PM #5
paulisue
Posts: 9
I am very new to learning about taoism.  I wanted to thank you for posting this discussion.  I have been feeling very overwhelmed trying to read and understand.  It will be interesting to read everyone's interpretations.  Since your post is my first time reading ch. 67, I am feeling really shy to offer any opinion or interpretation I have, but I hope that these discussions will help me understand more.  Again, thank you.
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 28, 2008 - 4:01PM #6
MengTzu
Posts: 110
[QUOTE=paulisue;302847]I am very new to learning about taoism.  I wanted to thank you for posting this discussion.  I have been feeling very overwhelmed trying to read and understand.  It will be interesting to read everyone's interpretations.  Since your post is my first time reading ch. 67, I am feeling really shy to offer any opinion or interpretation I have, but I hope that these discussions will help me understand more.  Again, thank you.[/QUOTE]

You're very welcome, my friend.  I know the vast amount of info can be overwhelming, but the bottomline of Daoism is to "Keep the One."  You and I are one and the same.  The religiosity, philosophy, music, art, and metaphysics of Daoism are one and the same.  This is not some wishy-washy sentiment about "everyone let's get along."  It is a central premise of Daoism that goes back to the Dao De Jing and that is a recurring theme throughout the history of the development of Daoist thought.

Other than this, just try to live a simple life.  Eat healthy, don't eat more than you need.  Sleep adequately, stay quiet and rest when you don't need to engage in activity, but don't stay inactive all the time.  Common sense stuff that makes you think, why do we need a 2500 year old tradition for this, right?  Exactly.  Beneath all the many layers of texts and practices, the premise of Daoism is rather simple.  Dao is simple, but our minds are not content with such simplicity, and perhaps a 2500 year old reminder is just what we need. 

This post was initially much longer, as I had written a lot more after the paragraph right above, but I decided to edit the post and cut out more than half of it so as not to overwhelm you with too much information.
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