Saturdao 15

Dao De Jing, verse 10a

16 translations

1. James Legge:
When the intelligent and animal souls are held together in one embrace, they can be kept from separating.
When one gives undivided attention to the (vital) breath, and brings it to the utmost degree of pliancy,
he can become as a (tender) babe.
When he has cleansed away the most mysterious sights (of his imagination), he can become without a flaw.
In loving the people and ruling the state, cannot he proceed without any (purpose of) action?
2. Archie Bahm:
If you would retain a wholesome personality, must you not restrain your lower interests from dominating over your higher interests?
If you wish to live healthily, should you not breathe naturally, like a child, and not hold your breath until your vitality is nearly exhausted?
If you desire to realize the potentialities of your indescribably original nature, how can you insist that some selected aspect of your personality is really superior to that original nature?
If you are required to govern others, ought you not be able to guide them by example, rather than by forcing your will upon them?
3. Frank MacHovec:
Can you control your mind so that it never strays from the way of Tao?
Can you control you breathing so that it is soft and gentle like a new-born babe?
Can you purify yourself so that you are perfect? Can you love all the people, rule them, and remain unknown? And do so without interference?
4. D.C. Lau:
When carrying on your head your perplexed bodily soul
Can you embrace in your arms the One and not let go?
In concentrating your breath can you become as supple
As a babe?
Can you polish your mysterious mirror
And leave no blemish?
Can you love the people and govern the state
Without resorting to action?
5. Gia-Fu Feng:
Carrying body and soul and embracing the one,
Can you avoid separation?
Attending fully and becoming supple,
Can you be as a newborn babe?
Washing and cleansing the primal vision,
Can you be without stain?
Loving all men and ruling the country,
Can you be without cleverness?
6. Stan Rosenthal:
“Cleaning the Dark Mirror”
Maintaining unity is virtuous, for the inner world of thought is one with the external world of action and of things.
The sage avoids their separation, by breathing as the sleeping babe, and thus maintaining harmony.
He cleans the dark mirror of his mind, so that it reflects without intent.
He conducts himself without contriving, loving the people, and not interfering.
7. Jacob Trapp:
“Inward Mysterious Power”
Can you embrace and love this world,
And not forsake the Way of Heaven?
Can you make gentleness your strength, be strong yet tender like a child?
Can you so cleanse your vision
As to dwell among men without bias?
Can you be humbly receptive
Before the mystery of things?
Can you, in deeper understanding,
Renounce pride of intellect?
8. Stephen Mitchell:
Can you coax your mind from its wandering
and keep to the original oneness?
Can you let your body become
supple as a newborn child's?
Can you cleanse your inner vision
until you see nothing but the light?
Can you love people and lead them
without imposing your will?
9. Victor Mair
While you
Cultivate the soul and embrace unity,
can you keep them from separating?
Focus your vital breath until it is supremely soft,
can you be like a baby?
Cleanse the mirror of mysteries,
can you make it free of blemish?
Love the people and enliven the state,
can you do so without cunning?
10. Michael LaFargue:
When ‘carrying your soul,’ embracing the One Thing,
can you be undivided?
When ‘concentrating ch’i', bringing about Softness,
can you be like an infant?
When ‘cleansing and purifying the mysterious mirror,’
can you be without blemish?
When ‘loving the people and caring for the kingdom,’
can you be without knowledge?
11. Peter Merel:
Embracing the Way, you become embraced;
Breathing gently, you become newborn;
Clearing your mind, you become clear;
Nurturing your children, you become impartial;
12. Ursula LeGuin:
Can you keep your soul in its body,
hold fast to the one,
and so learn to be whole?
Can you center your energy,
be soft, tender
and so learn to be a baby?
Can you keep the deep water still and clear,
so it reflects without blurring?
Can you love people and run things,
and do so by not doing?
13. Ron Hogan:
Can you hold on to your ego
and still stay focused on Tao?
Can you relax your mind and body
and brace yourself for a new life?
Can you check yourself
and see past
what's in front of your eyes?
Can you be a leader
And not try to prove you’re in charge?
14. Ames and Hall:
In carrying about your more spiritual and more physical aspects and embracing their oneness,
Are you able to keep them from separating?
In concentrating your qi and making it pliant,
Are you able to become the newborn babe?
In scrubbing and cleansing your profound mirror,
Are you able to rid it of all imperfections?
In loving the common people and breathing life into the state,
Are you able to do it without recourse to wisdom?
15. Yasuhiko Genku Kimura:
In accordance with the Tao Eternal
Embrace your body and mind in onenenss without any diremption.
Enliven your vital energy until it reaches the suppleness of a baby.
Cleanse your mind to eliminate all unclarity.
Love your people and lead your community without unbalanced action.
16. Addiss and Lombardo:
Can you balance your life force
And embrace the One
Without separation?
Can you control your breath
Like a baby?
Can you clarify
Your dark vision
Without blemish?
Can you love people
And govern the country
Without knowledge?
* * * * * * *
Ames and Hall's "without recourse to wisdom" means "not inspired by some instrumental, enabling, 'tried and true' wisdom," but drawing instead upon "an immediate and fundamentally creative activity out of which fresh and efficacious intelligence arises to guide the way."

What stands out for me this week is Rosenthal's line: "clean the dark mirror of [your] mind, so that it reflects without intent" (where "without intent" would include also that meaning of "without recourse to wisdom"). The rest of this half-verse, and all 16 translations, are commentaries on that:

Clean the dark mirror of your mind so that it reflects without intent.

See: Saturdao Index

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