Sunday, February 26, 2012

Line by Line - Verse 61, Lines 1-3

What makes a great state is its being (like) a low-lying, down- flowing (stream); -- it becomes the center to which tend (all the small states) under heaven. (To illustrate from) the case of all females:
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

A great country is like low land.
It is the meeting ground of the universe,
The mother of the universe.

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

The large country is like the lowest river
The converging point of the world
The receptive female of the world

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

Power flows down
to every level of existence
like a river to the ocean.

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
When I read these lines, it makes me think of many of the nature documentaries I've watched over the years, particularly those that focus on the continent of Africa or the Rocky Mountains in the US. The films show landscapes where life is a struggle for significant portions of the year, then in spring or the rainy season, life explodes near rivers and watering holes.

It is in valleys near streams -- the low points -- that the young are suckled and creatures large and small are revived from the harsh winter or the long trek.

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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