Saturdao 31

Dao De Jing, verse 19b

16 translations.

1. James Legge:
Those three methods (of government)
Thought olden ways in elegance did fail
And made these names their want of worth to veil;
But simple views, and courses plain and true
Would selfish ends and many lusts eschew.
2. Archie Bahm:
If the foregoing three principles are unclear, then at least the following are understandable:
Simply be yourself.
Act naturally.
Refrain from self-assertiveness.
Avoid covetousness.
3. Frank MacHovec: “On Real Education”
These three things involve the external world; they are therefore of no real value.
The people need what is more dependable. Reveal, then, your natural, inner self. Realize your original nature; control selfishness; subdue desires.
4. D.C. Lau:
These three, being false adornments, are not enough
And the people must have something to which they can attach themselves:
Exhibit the unadorned and embrace the uncarved block,
Have little thought of self and as few desires as possible.
5. Gia-Fu Feng:
These three are outward forms alone; they are not sufficient in themselves.
It is more important
To see the simplicity,
To realize one’s true nature,
To cast off selfishness
And temper desire.
6. Stan Rosenthal: “Returning to Naturalness”
But ethics and kindness, and even wisdom, are insufficient in themselves.
Better by far to see the simplicity of raw silk's beauty and the uncarved block; to be one with onself, and with one's brother.
It is better by far to be one with the Dao, developing selflessness, tempering desire, removing the wish, but being compassionate.
7. Jacob Trapp: “Return to Simplicity”
If, without these three,
life should seem too commonplace,
let there be certain adornments:
simplicity to contemplate,
an uncarved block to hold,
selflessness and fewness of desires.
8. Stephen Mitchell:
If these three aren't enough,
just stay at the center of the circle
and let all things take their course.
9. Victor Mair:
These three statements
are inadequate as a civilizing doctrine;
Let something be added to them:
Evince the plainness of undyed silk,
Embrace the simplicity of the unhewn log;
Lessen selfishness,
Diminish desires;
Abolish learning
and you will be without worries.
10. Michael LaFargue:
Taking these three lines as your text –
this is not sufficient.
Give them something to fasten on to:
Pay attention to the Raw, embrace the Uncarved
discount your personal interests, make your desires few.
11. Peter Merel: “Simplify”
Yet such remedies treat only symptoms
And so they are inadequate.
People need personal remedies:
Reveal your naked self and embrace your original nature;
Bind your self-interest and control your ambition;
Forget your habits and simplify your affairs.
12. Ursula LeGuin: “Raw silk and uncut wood”
But even these three rules
Needn’t be followed; what works reliably
Is to know the raw silk,
Hold the uncut wood.
Need little,
want less.
Forget the rules.
Be untroubled.
13. Wang Keping:
Yet, these are inadequate as a doctrine,
We therefore urge the following:
Manifest plainness and embrace simplicity;
Reduce selfishness and have few desires;
And get rid of learning and have no worries.
14. Ames and Hall:
But these three sayings as they stand are still lacking
And need to be supplemented by the following:
Display a genuineness like raw silk and embrace a simplicity like unworked wood,
Lessen your concern for yourself and reduce your desires.
15. Yasuhiko Genku Kimura:
By looking within,
Evince the inner self,
Embrace the unadorned truth;
Diminish the outer self,
Demolish the phantasmic desire.
Abandon the external search for knowledge,
Abolish the internal worry for illusory matters.
16. Addiss and Lombardo:
These three statements are not enough.
One more step is necessary:
Look at plain silk; hold uncarved wood.
The self dwindles; desires fade.
* * *
Those maxims your elementary school teacher so oft repeated.
Do you remember them? Did they do you any good?
Those times when you were simple.
Maybe that felt better.
* * *
Previous: Saturdao 30.
Beginning: Saturdao 1.

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