If it were like any other (system), for long would its smallness have been known!In this instance, whether or not it is true to the various translations, I like the way Ron Hogan interprets this line. I think it goes to the heart of ALL belief systems.
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~
If it were not different, it would have vanished long ago.
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~
If it can be compared
It would already be insignificant long ago!
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~
If we could wrap our minds around it,
Tao would be just another thing.
~ Ron Hogan rendition, from Beatrice.com, 2004 ~
There is a mysterious force that shapes and molds existence. Though we realize we can never understand it, this doesn't stop us from trying to commodify it! By turning this force or essence into a graspable thing, we delude ourselves into imagining we can actually know it comprehensively and dissolve the mystery that surrounds it once and for all.
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