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Dao De Jing [Tao Te Ching]

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Chapter 41

Sameness and Difference

Sameness in Difference / The Unreality of Appearance

  Original Legge's Translation Susuki's Translation Goddard's Translation
1 Scholars of the highest class, when they hear about the Dao,
earnestly carry it into practice.
When a superior scholar hears of Reason he endeavors to practise it. The superior scholar when he considers Dao earnestly practices it;
2 Scholars of the middle class, when
they have heard about it, seem now to keep it and now to lose it.

When an average scholar hears of Reason he will sometimes keep it and sometimes lose it.

An average scholar listening to Dao sometimes follows it and sometimes loses it;
3 Scholars of the lowest class, when they have heard about it, laugh
greatly at it. If it were not (thus) laughed at, it would not be fit
to be the Dao.

When an inferior scholar hears of Reason he will greatly ridicule it. Were it not thus ridiculed, it would as Reason be insufficient.

An inferior scholar listening to Dao ridicules it. Were it not thus ridiculed it could not be regarded as Dao.

Therefore the sentence-makers have thus expressed themselves:--

Therefore the poet says:

Therefore the writer says:


'The Dao, when brightest seen, seems light to lack; who progress in it makes, seems drawing back;
Its even way is like a rugged track.

"The Reason--enlightened seem dark and black, the Reason--advanced seem going back, the Reason--straight-levelled seem rugged and slack.

Those who are most illumined by Dao are the most obscure. Those advanced in Dao are most retiring. Those best guided by Dao are the least prepossessing.


Its highest virtue from the vale doth rise; Its greatest beauty seems to offend the eyes; And he has most whose lot the least supplies.

"The high in virtue resemble a vale, The purely white in shame must quail,
The staunchest virtue seems to fail.

The high in virtue (de [teh]) resemble a lowly valley; the whitest are most likely to be put to shame; the broadest in virtue resemble the inefficient.

Its firmest virtue seems but poor and low; Its solid truth seems change to undergo; Its largest square doth yet no corner show

. "The solidest virtue seems not alert, The purest chastity seems pervert, The greatest square will rightness desert.

The most firmly established in virtue resemble the remiss. The simplest chastity resembles the fickle, the greatest square has no corner,

A vessel great, it is the slowest made; Loud is its sound, but never word it said; A semblance great, the shadow of a shade.'

"The largest vessel is not yet complete, The loudest sound is not speech replete,
The greatest form has no shape concrete."
the largest vessel is never filled. The greatest sound is void of speech, the greatest form has no shape.
9 The Dao is hidden, and has no name; but it is the Dao which is
skilful at imparting (to all things what they need) and making them

Reason so long as it remains latent is unnamable. Yet Reason alone is good for imparting and completing.

Tao is obscure and without name, and yet it is precisely this Dao that alone can give and complete.
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