Monthly Chapter: 58

Monthly Chapter 370

When its politics are boring, its people are honest.
When its politics are scrutinized, its people are imperfect.
Misfortune, yet of good fortune its resting place
Good fortune, yet of misfortune its hiding place
Who knows such extremes? It’s not mainstream.
Mainstream turns to strange, Good turns to evil.
The people have been long confused.
Thus, the wise are upright, yet not cuttingly so.
Honest, yet not stabbingly so.
Straightforward, yet not wantonly so.
Honorable yet not gloriously so.

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Word for Word

Limit: Translations, even my nearly literal one above, invariably lose some of the ancient ‘original intention’ due to the modern cultural context we bring to our language’s words… our ‘education’.Studying the Word-for-Word translation of the Chinese character’s many synonym-like meanings helps mitigate this. (Click graphic at right for on-line Word-for-Word.)

Reflections:

I am happy with the loosely literal rendition of this chapter. Again, changing words around doesn’t affect the meaning all that much. It is like rearranging the furniture in one’s room. As soon as the novelty of the change wears off you are back to square one again. Meaning truly rests in the mind’s eye of the reader / beholder. I think translation dangers lie more in any choice of words that actually mislead. Of course, that is probably more a result of translator bias than anything else is. For example, if the translator / interpreter has a humanist bias, that will show up in their choice of words. Naturally, the same applies to spiritual bias.

Ideally, the Taoist worldview is neither humanist nor spiritual… just natural. Naturally, this talk of bias begs the question: “what is Carl’s bias?”. I know our own biases blind us to seeing our own biases as biases. So, I leave it to others to call me out on that one. Perhaps my dogged perseverance to observe the ‘profound sameness‘ between that which appears different, forms my core bias. Of course, this doesn’t feel like a bias; it just feels like true reality. But then, that is the purpose of one’s biases. :-D

So, I reckon that it is better to be confused and vague than to have ‘reality’ nailed down ‘wrong’ (I hope I’ve done my best to confuse). When I am confused, I am more likely to look at the Word for Word synonyms. Half the time that just confuses me more, but eventually ‘profound sameness‘ settles the dust and I see life a bit more simply.

As this chapter points out, all things are connected. Differences are illusionary; similarities are closer to reality. Maybe that is the Taoist bias in a nut shell. No matter which side you choose to take, you will be on the ‘wrong side’ of the way. That experience, over time, naturally results in this…

Honest, yet not stabbingly so.
Straightforward, yet not wantonly so.
Honorable yet not gloriously so.

 

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1 Responses to “Monthly Chapter: 58”


  • Good one and I like that…No matter which side you choose to take, you will be on the ‘wrong side’ of the way.Well parts of me don’t really “like” it as I want to be “right”. :)

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