Saturday, July 30, 2011

Line by Line - Verse 38, Lines 18-19

swift apprehension is (only) a flower of the Tao, and is the beginning of stupidity.
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

Knowledge of the future is only a flowery trapping of Tao.
It is the beginning of folly.

~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

Those with foreknowledge
Are the flowers of the Tao
And the beginning of ignorance

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

If you've already made up your mind,
you don't know the first thing about Tao,
and you never will.

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
As Derek Lin explains these lines, they are about people who are superficial and lack the depth of substance. They make a big show of "being in the know," but they lack real virtue.

On another level, none of us can see into the future. People who are well-grounded can make educated guesses based on the circumstances, but in so many situations there are variables even the wisest among us don't take into account or are unable to see.

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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