Friday, January 28, 2011

Line by Line - Verse 21, Line 2

Who can of Tao the nature tell?
Our sight it flies, our touch as well.
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

The Tao is elusive and intangible.
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

The Tao, as a thing
Seems indistinct, seems unclear
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

But you can't pin Tao down -- you can't even see it!
How are you supposed to focus on something like that?

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
I don't know about you, but I think Ron Hogan captures the essence of this line in the popular vernacular.

Our world is built so much on imagery. Everywhere you look, the marketers will try to convince you that you can't be hip, cool, chic, popular or powerful if you don't give your heart and soul to remake yourself into a brand or image that others have created for you!

So, this idea of emptying ourselves and trying to embody this elusive phantom called Tao probably sounds damn scary to a lot of people. How can a person emulate something that is mere essence, not tangible nor substantive -- particularly in such an image-conscious society?

To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.

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