Cover of Pusteblume #4, Spring 2014

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Selections from the Daodejing of Laozi
translated by Tony Jiang from Chinese

2.

天下皆知美之为美, 恶已; 皆知善, 斯不善矣。 有无之相生也, 难易之相成也, 长短之相刑也, 高下之相盈也, 音声之相和也, 先后之相随, 恒 也。 是以圣人居无为 之事, 行不言之教, 万物作而弗始也, 为而弗志也, 成功而弗居也。 夫唯弗居, 是以弗去。

Define beauty, ugliness takes shape.
Define the good, evil takes shape.

Being and non-being co-exist.
Complex and simple define each other.
Long and short complete each other.
High and low fulfill each other.
Sound and voice weave in harmony.

The relationship between opposites is always constant.
Therefore sages act without action.
They notice but do not create.
They act without intention.
They succeed without taking credit.
Not interested in gain, not burdened by loss.

5.
天地不仁, 以万物为刍狗; 圣人不仁, 以百姓为刍狗。 天地之间, 其犹橐龠乎? 虚而不屈, 动而俞出。 多闻数穷, 不若守于中。

The universe itself is not benevolent,
it sees all creatures as mere straw dogs.
Sages are not benevolent, they see all mortals as straw dogs.

Isn't the space between Heaven and Earth like wind?
It is empty yet sprawling.
The more it moves the more it heaves.
Increase in knowledge leads to greater ignorance.

Best be still. Best stay balanced.

8.
上善 若水。 水善利万物而不争, 处众人之所恶, 故几于道。 居, 善地; 心, 善渊; 与, 善仁; 言, 善信; 政, 善治; 事, 善能; 动, 善时。 夫唯不争, 故无尤。

The highest excellence is water.
Water is benevolent, a merit to all being;
Always steady and non-competing;
It dwells in places abhorred by most people;
Thus, it is closest to Dao.

Best be like water.
Live in the right place;
Keep your heart at peace;
Communicate with honesty;
Speak with trust;
Rule with legitimacy;
Act according to your capabilities;
Move at the right time;
Only the non-competing shall have no resentment.


Tony Jiang, of Guangdongsheng, China, is studying sociology and the humanities at Boston University.

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