Saturdao 25

Dao De Jing, verse 15b

16 translations.

1. James Legge:
The skilful masters (of the Dao) in old times [were],…
vacant like a valley,
and dull like muddy water.
Who can (make) the muddy water (clear)?
Let it be still, and it will gradually become clear.
Who can secure the condition of rest?
Let movement go on, and the condition of rest will gradually arise.
They who preserve this method of the Dao do not wish to be full (of themselves).
It is through their not being full of themselves
That they can afford to seem worn and not appear new and complete.
2. Archie Bahm:
Regarding digging ditches: the steeper you slope their sildes, the sooner they will wash down.
Regarding muddy water: the more you try to stir the dirt out of it, the murkier it gets
What, then, should we do in order to clear the muddy water? Leave it alone and the dirt will settle out by itself.
What, then, must we do in order to achieve contentment? Let each thing act according to its own nature, and it will eventually come to rest in its own way.
Those who fully comprehend the true nature of existence do not try to push thing to excess.
And because they do not try to push things to exceeds, they are able to satisfy their needs repeatedly without exhausting themselves.
3. Frank MacHovec:
“The Dao of the Ancients”
The ancient followers of Dao [were]…
Receptive, like an inviting, open valley; friendly, like muddied water, freely mixing.
Who can make sense of a world like cloudy water? Left alone and still, it becomes clear. Should this stillness be maintained? Moving hastily will surely could it again. How then can one move and not become coulded? Accept Dao and achieve without being selfish; being unselfish one endures the world’s wear, and needs no change of pace.
4. D.C. Lau:
Of old he who was well versed in the way was…
Vacant like a valley;
Murky like muddy water.
Who can be muddy and yet, settling, slowly become limpid?
Who can be at rest and yet, stirring, slowly come to life?
He who holds fast to this way
Desires not to be full.
It is because he is not full
That he can be worn and yet newly made.
5. Gia-Fu Feng:
The ancient masters were…
Hollow, like caves.
Opaque, like muddy pools
Who can wait quietly while the mud settles?
Who can remain still until the moment of action?
Observers of the Dao do not seek fulfillment.
Not seeking fulfillment, they are not swayed by desire for change.
6. Stan Rosenthal:
“The Manifestation of the Dao in Man”
The sage of old:…
He was courteous like a visiting guest, and as yielding as the springtime ice.
Having no desires, he was untouched by craving.
Receptive and mysterious, his knowledge was unfathomable, causing others to think him hesitant.
Pure in heart, like uncut jade, he cleared the muddy water by leaving it alone.
By remaining calm and active, the need for renewing is reduced.
7. Jacob Trapp:
“The Wise Man of Old”
The Ancient Sage was…
Open, receptive, like a valley.
Turbid water he lets be,
Slowly to clear.
A person in great turmoil,
He helps by standing by.
His patience avails.
Embracing Dao, he guards against
The conceit of being full.
Knowing his hunger and his need,
He is never sated, ever renewed.
8. Stephen Mitchell:
The ancient Masters were…
Receptive as a valley.
Clear as a glass of water.
Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?
The Master doesn't seek fulfillment.
Not seeking, not expecting,
she is present, and can welcome all things.
9. Victor Mair:
Those of old who were adept in the Way were…
muddled as turbid waters;
expansive, as a broad valley.
If turbid waters are stilled, they will gradually become clear;
If something inert is set in motion, it will gradually come to life.
Those who preserved this Way did not wish to be full.
Simply because they did not wish to be full,
they could be threadbare and incomplete.
10. Michael LaFargue:
The Excellent shih of ancient times [were]…
all vacant space, like the Valley
everything mixed together, like muddy water.

Who is able, as muddy water,
by Stilling to slowly become clear?
Who is able, at rest,
by long dawn-out movement to slowly come to lfie?
Whoever holds onto this Dao
does not yearn for solidity.
He simply lacks solidity, and so
what he is capable of:
Remaining concealed, accomplishing nothing new
11. Peter Merel:
The enlightened [are]…
Broad as a valley,
Seamless as muddy water.
Who stills the water that the mud may settle,
Who seeks to stop that he may travel on,
Who desires less than what may transpire,
Decays, but will not renew.
12. Ursula LeGuin:
“People of power”
Once upon a time people who knew the Way were…
Empty, like valleys.
Mysterious, oh yes, they were like troubled water.
Who can by stillness, little by little
make what is troubled grow clear?
Who can by movement, little by little
make what is still grow quick?
To follow the Way
is not to need fulfillment.
Unfulfilled, one may live on
needing no renewal.
13. Wang Keping:
He who was adept at practicing the Dao in antiquity:…
He was open and expansive, like a great valley;
He was merged and indifferent, like muddy water.
Who could make the muddy gradually clear via tranquility?
Who could make the still gradually come to life via activity?
(It was nobody else but him.)
He who maintains the Dao does not want to be overflowing.
It is just because he does not want to be overflowing
That he can be renewed when worn out.
14. Ames and Hall:
Those of old who were good at forging their way (dao) in the world:…
So murky, like muddy water;
So vast and vacant, like a mountain gorge.
Muddy water, when stilled, slowly becomes clear;
Something settled, when agitated, slowly comes to life.
Those who prize way-making do not seek fullness;
It is only because they do not want to be full
That they are able to remain hidden and unfinished.
15. Yasuhiko Genku Kimura:
“The Embodiment of the Dao Eternal”
The ancient masters are…
As empty as an open valley,
As inclusive as turbid waters.
Who could keep still until turbid waters become clear of their own accord?
Who could stay calm until still waters become alive of their own accord?
Those who embody the Dao do not desire to extend themselves to the fullest.
for, the Dao is balance,
and there is no fullest, no extreme.
Therefore, through balance, they refill their essence
and renew their life force forevermore.
16. Addiss and Lombardo:
The ancients who followed Dao [were]…
Like uncarved woor.
Like a valley.
Mixing freely,
Like muddy water.
Calm the muddy water,
It becomes clear.
Move the inert,
It comes to life.
Those who sustain Dao
Do not wish to be full.
Because they do not wish to be full
They can fade away
Without further effort.
* * * * *
Stillness to let the muddy water clear.
Comfort the afflicted.
Empty out.
Calm action, arising of itself, to stir the complacent to life.
Afflict the comfortable.
Empty out, empty out.

* * * * *
See Saturdao Index.