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Dao De Jing [Tao Te Ching]

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Chapter 16

Returning to the Root

Returning to the Root / Returning to the Source

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

The (state of) vacancy should be brought to the utmost degree, and that of stillness guarded with unwearying vigour.

By attaining the height of abstraction we gain fulness of rest.

Seek to attain an open mind (the summit of vacuity). Seek composure (the essence of tranquillity).
2

All things alike go through their processes of activity, and (then) we see them return (to their original state). Then things (in the vegetable world) have displayed their luxuriant growth, we see each of them return to its root. This returning to their root is what we call the state of stillness; and that stillness may be called a reporting that they have fulfilled their appointed end. The report of that fulfilment is the regular, unchanging rule. To know that unchanging rule is to be intelligent; not to know it leads to wild movements and evil issues.

All the ten thousand things arise, and I see them return. Now they bloom in bloom but each one homeward returneth to its root.Returning to the root means rest. It signifies the return according to destiny. Return according to destiny means the eternal. Knowing the eternal means enlightenment. Not knowing the eternal causes passions to rise; and that is evil.

All things are in process, rising and returning. Plants come to blossom, but only to return to the root. Returning to the root is like seeking tranquillity; it is moving towards its destiny. To move toward destiny is like eternity. To know eternity is enlightenment, and not to recognize eternity brings disorder and evil.

3 The knowledge of that unchanging rule produces a (grand) capacity and forbearance, and that capacity and forbearance lead to a community (of feeling with all things). From this community of feeling comes a kingliness of character; and he who is king-like goes on to be heaven-like. In that likeness to heaven he possesses the Dao. Possessed of the Dao, he endures long; and to the end of his bodily life, is exempt from all danger of decay.
Knowing the eternal renders comprehensive. Comprehensiveness renders broad. Breadth renders royal. Royalty renders heavenly. Heaven renders Reason-like. Reason renders lasting. Thus the decay of the body implies no danger. Knowing eternity makes one comprehensive; comprehension makes one broadminded; breadth of vision brings nobility; nobility is like heaven.The heavenly is like Dao. Dao is the Eternal. The decay of the body is not to be feared.
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