Monday, January 31, 2011

Line by Line - Verse 21, Line 5

Profound it is, dark and obscure;
Things' essences all there endure.

~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

Oh, it is dim and dark, and yet within is essence.
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

So deep, so profound
Within it there is essence

~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

And every object has Tao at its core.
~ Ron Hogan rendition, from Beatrice.com, 2004 ~
I would take Ron Hogan's rendition one step further: everything -- form and formless -- contains the essence of Tao.

There is some unknown quality that makes existence possible. We truly don't what it is...or what it is not. We don't where it came from or if it came from anywhere. We don't know if it thinks or feels. We don't know how it operates. We don't even know if it is an it or a them or none of the above.

And we don't know if what we know is knowable or if we actually know what we think we know or if we simply think we know what we don't know. We're not sure if the real is a dream or each dream is what's real.

So, all we possibly can surmise is that this entity we call the self believes itself to be alive. Whatever spurred the self to believe this is the essence of life itself.

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

1 comment:

  1. "And we don't know if what we know is knowable or if we actually know what we think we know or if we simply think we know what we don't know."

    The best sentence you've ever written.

    I think it is mor interesting to explore this topic in terms of artificial intelligence and singularity, epistemology and philosophy of mind, than pondering the mythology of angels and devils.

    ReplyDelete

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