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Dao De Jing [Tao Te Ching]

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Chapter 32

The Dao With No Name

The Virtue of Holiness / The Virtue of Holiness

  Original Legge's Translation Susuki's Translation Goddard's Translation
1 The Dao, considered as unchanging, has no name.
Reason, in its eternal aspect, is unnamable. Tao in its eternal aspect is unnamable.

Though in its primordial simplicity it may be small, the whole world dares not deal with (one embodying) it as a minister. If a feudal prince or the king could guard and hold it, all would
spontaneously submit themselves to him.

Although its simplicity seems insignificant, the whole world does not dare to suppress it. If princes and kings could keep it, the ten thousand things would of themselves pay homage. Heaven and earth would unite in dripping sweet dew, and the people with no one to command them would of themselves be righteous.

Its simplicity appears insignificant, but the whole world cannot control it. If princes and kings employ it every one of themselves will pay willing homage. Heaven and Earth by it are harmoniously combined and drop sweet dew. People will have no need of rulers, because of themselves they will be righteous.

Heaven and Earth (under its guidance) unite together and send down the sweet dew, which, without the directions of men, reaches equally
everywhere as of its own accord.

As soon as Reason creates order, it becomes namable. Whenever the namable in its turn acquires existence, one learns to know when to stop. By knowing when to stop, one avoids danger.

As soon as Dao expresses itself in orderly creation then it becomes comprehensible. When one recognizes the presence of Dao he understands where to stop. Knowing where to stop he is free from danger.


As soon as it proceeds to action, it has a name. When it once has that name, (men) can know to rest in it. When they know to rest in
it, they can be free from all risk of failure and error. The relation of the Dao to all the world is like that of the great rivers and seas to the streams from the valleys.

To illustrate Reason's relation to the world we compare it to streams and creeks in their course towards rivers and the ocean.

To illustrate the nature of Dao's place in the universe: Dao is like the brooks and streams in their relation to the great rivers and the ocean.

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