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Dao De Jing [Tao Te Ching]

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Chapter 1

Embodying the Dao

Reason's Realization / What is the Dao?

  Original Legge's Translation Susuki's Translation Goddard's Translation
1

The Dao that can be trodden
is not the enduring and unchanging Dao.
The name that can be named
is not the enduring and unchanging name.

The Reason that can be reasoned
is not the eternal Reason.
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.
The Dao that can be understood cannot be the primal, or cosmic, Dao, just as an idea that can be expressed in words cannot be the infinite idea.
2

(Conceived of as) having no name, it is the Originator of heaven and earth;
(conceived of as) having a name, it is the Mother of all things.

The Unnamable is of heaven and earth the beginning.
The Namable becomes of the ten thousand things the mother.
And yet this ineffable Dao was the source of all spirit and matter, and being expressed was the mother of all created things.
3 Always without desire we must be found,
If its deep mystery we would sound;
But if desire always within us be,
Its outer fringe is all that we shall see.
Therefore it is said:
" He who desireless is found
The spiritual of the world will sound.
But he who by desire is bound
Sees the mere shell of things around."
Therefore not to desire the things of sense is to know the freedom of spirituality; and to desire is to learn the limitation of matter.
4 Under these two aspects,
it is really the same;
but as development takes place, it receives the different names.
Together we call them the mystery.
Where the Mystery is the deepest is the gate of all that is subtle and wonderful.
These two things are the same in source but different in name.
Their sameness is called a mystery.
Indeed, it is the mystery of mysteries.
Of all spirituality it is the door.
These two things spirit and matter, so different in nature, have the same origin. This unity of origin is the mystery of mysteries, but it is the gateway to spirituality.
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