Thursday, September 22, 2011

On the "Great Way" - The Tao of Nature

There was something featureless yet complete,
      born before heaven and earth;

Silent - amorphous -
      it stood alone and unchanging.

We may regard it as the mother of heaven and earth.
Not knowing its name,
      I style it the "Way."

If forced to give it a name,
      I would call it "great."

Being great implies flowing ever onward,
Flowing ever onward implies far-reaching,
Far-reaching implies reversal.

The Way is great,
Heaven is great,
Earth is great,

The king, too, is great.

Within the realm there are four greats,
      and the king is one among them.

      patterns himself on earth,
      patterns itself on heaven,
      patterns itself on the Way,
The Way
      patterns itself on nature.

(Lao Tzu, "Tao Te Ching," Victor H. Mair trans., p. 90.)

1 comment:

  1. hi, beautiful translation. but there is a mistake in this translation. A small chinese word "zi ran" of the famous paragraph means different between the ancient context and modern chinese, so even a lot of today's Chinese have the same misunderstanding as well when reading this part. The right translation of the very last sentence should be:" The Way patterns itself on itself." Chinese word "zi ran" today means "nature" but in the ancient time it means "what it is"or"itself" .


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