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Switch to Forum Live View Translation of Daoist Text 1 -- Qing Jing JIng
10 years ago  ::  Jan 28, 2008 - 6:53PM #1
Posts: 110
While the Dao De Jing and a few other Daoist texts have become more and more popularized in the English speaking world through the effort of translators, there is a great wealth of texts that is mostly unknown to the world (many of these texts are unfamiliar to even the Chinese).  The following is a text that is largely unknown to many Western Daoists but is a text that is often recited and chanted by Daoist priests.

Qing Jing Jing (The Scripture of Clarity and Silence)

Long title: Tai Shang Lao Jun Shuo Chang Qing Jing Jing (The Scripture of the Highest Laojun's Discourse on Constant Clarity and Silence)

Part 1

Laojun says,
"The Great Dao has no form, but it gives birth and nourishes heaven and earth. 
The Great Dao has no emotion, but it moves the sun and the moon. 
The Great Dao has no name, but it nourishes all things.
I know not its name, so I impose the name 'Dao'.
Dao has the aspects of 'clarity' and 'unclarity',
The aspects of 'motion' and 'quietude.'
The heaven is clear and the earth is unclear,
The heaven moves and the earth is silent.
The male principle is clear and the female principle is unclear.
The male principle moves and the female principle is silent.
From the source to its ends, all things came into being.
Clarity is the origin of unclarity;
Silence is the origin of motion.
If a human can be constantly in a state of clarity and silence,
Heaven and earth will be united with him/her."


"Laojun" is a honorary name many Daoists use to refer to Laozi.  Where "Laozi" means "Master Lao", the Daoists pushed it up a notch by rendering even greater respect to him, by referring to him as "Laojun", making him more than a master.  "Jun" roughly means lord, nobleman, gentleman, and is a title of honor especially in ancient times.  By referring to him as Laojun, however, doesn't necessarily imply that we are servants of Laojun, as the title may be a general honorary title and calling someone "jun" doens't necessarily mean you're his servant.

"Taishang" means "the highest."  The Daoists often places the phrase "Taishang" in front of "Laojun" to further their veneration.  In practice, "Laojun" and "Taishang Laojun" are usually used to highlight the perceived divinity of Laozi.  Laozi is deified by many Daoists as more than a human.  He is considered to be a personification of Dao itself.  While many Western Daoists are uncomfortable with this connotation (as some Western Daoists are atheistic or agnostic and uncomfortable with the idea of elevating a human to divine status, while some Western readers of Dao De Jing are Christians and do not wish to acknowledge other divinities besides the Christian God), one can still appreciate text like this by looking at its message without consider Laozi to be supernatural.  Another way for atheists and agnostics (I'm not sure if Christian Daoists can accept this) to appreciate this is to acknowledge Laozi's divinity as metaphysical.  The idea of "gods" in Daoism is that all gods are ethers -- life and energy forces emanating from Dao.  That is, the gods are transformation of Dao.  Thus, a "secular" interpretation of Daoists gods is that they are energies of nature.  Yet another way for atheists and agnostics to appreciate this is to consider Laozi's divinity as simply symbolic.  (I'll start a thread about the subject of reconciling the positions of a Daoist agnostic (such as myself) and the Daoist idea of deities.)

"Male principle" and "female principle" do not necessarily apply only to men and women, respectively.  A man carries in him both male and female principles.  The text here does not imply that women are in silent or ought to keep quiet.  The female principle is more abstract than that.
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 01, 2008 - 7:10PM #2
Posts: 110
Part 2

The human spirit is disposed toward clarity, but the heart confuses it;
The human heart is disposed toward silence, but desires entangle it.
If one can constantly banish desires, the heart will become silent on its own;
[If one can constantly] clarify the heart, the spirit will become clear on its own.
Naturally, the six desires will then no longer arise, and the three poisons disappear.
The reason that one does not achieve this is that one's hearts are not yet clarify,
And one's desires not yet banished.
Once one can banish one's desires:
When one looks within to examine one's heart, there are no heart.
When one looks without to examine one's body , there are no body.
When one looks afar to examine objects, there are no objects.
Having realized these three truths, one only sees emptiness,
Even "seeing emptiness" becomes empty,
Thus emptiness cannot be further emptied.
Since it cannot be further emptied,
No-nothingness also cease to exist.
Since no-nothingness does not exist,
One becomes, in a state of clarity, constantly silent.
When silence cannot be further silenced,
How can desires arise?
Since desires do no arise,
One enters a state of true silence.
True silence constantly reacts to objects;
True silence constantly [brings one to] obtain one’s true nature.
Thus one is constantly reacting and constantly silent:
Such is the state of constant clarity and silence.

Note: How is the translation?  Is it dense and difficult to understand?  If so, I might make a translation that is more paraphrasing, because I've been trying to do a very literal translation, and expressing ancient Chinese in English is difficult and awkward.  Let me know what you guys think.

Comment: I kept using the words "clear" and "clarity" to express "Qing," but the word can also be translated as "pure" or "purity."  I avoided "purity", though, because to some it might imply the opposite of sin, and might think that the text is teaching a moralistic lesson about how pleasures are sinful.  But the text isn't saying that, and in the context of this text  "Qing" means something more: the "clarity" or "purity" here is beyond that -- it's about being free from not only malice, but also all thoughts that disturb one's peace.  The lesson here is really about peace: peace within one's mind, peace in one's activities, and peace in the world.

Stay tuned for Part 3!
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 02, 2008 - 8:27PM #3
Posts: 110
Part 3

Having thus reached this state of clarity and silence,
One gradually enters the true Dao.
Because one is entering the true Dao,
Such is called "attainment of Dao."
Although it is called "attainment of Dao,"
There was nothing to attain.
[However], for the purpose of transforming all lives,
We call this "attainment of Dao."
If one understands this,
The sacred Dao may be passed on to him/her.
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9 years ago  ::  Jul 17, 2008 - 4:58PM #4
Posts: 5
thanks so much for this.
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