Sunday, June 26, 2011

Line by Line - Verse 34, Line 6

-it may be named in the smallest things.
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

It has no aim; it is very small.
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

Ever desiring nothing
It can be named insignificant

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

It wants for nothing. Think nothing of it.
~ Ron Hogan rendition, from Beatrice.com, 2004 ~
When we speak of significance in everyday conversation, we generally refer to something that is prominent, bold, decisive or large in size. It is a factor that stands out and/or calls attention to itself.

But as Derek Lin remarks,
The Tao seems insignificant because it remains in the background. Its workings are subtle, imperceptible, and easy for most people to overlook.
And so, we are presented with another of the many paradoxes within philosophical Taoism. Because the mysterious Way does not call attention to itself, we deem the most significant element of life as not all that important.

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. >..we deem the most significant element of life as not all that important.<

    What? Not me. I agree with what my teacher has said about this section:
    "Though small, since all submit to it we have to call it great."

    Maybe you see a paradox because you're looking at this line in isolation.

    ReplyDelete

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