Limits: 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.)
Do without doing,
Be involved without being involved.
Taste without tasting.
Make the great small and the many few,
Respond to resentment using kindness.
Plan difficulty out from its easy.
Do the great out from its small.
All difficulties under heaven must arise from the easy.
All that is great under heaven must arise from the small.
Accordingly, the wise man, in the end, doesn’t support greatness,
For this reason he is able to accomplish greatness.
The man that rashly promises, certainly few trust.
The excessively easy, certainly excessively difficult.
Accordingly, the wise man, still of difficulty,
For this reason, in the end, without difficulty.
Chapter of the Month
Line 12: The man that softly promises, certainly few trust. Softly promises is probably misleading. It may infer gently which oddly enough isn’t wrong, per se, as the various translated meanings (below) of the character show. A more accurate inference would be ‘not important; rashly; make light of‘, or even the primary meaning, ‘light‘. Light promises are not to be taken seriously. Why did I ever choose softly? Oh well, that’s why I keep reviewing this ‘work in progress’. Rashly is a better fit.
Qīng (轻) light; small in number, degree, etc.; not important; gently; softly; rashly; belittle; make light of.
Make the great small and the many few. Making the “many few” certainly goes a long way to decreasing my life’s stress. That is the core benefit of the correlations process. Chapter 56’s focus on “profound sameness” parallels this in how it advises going about making the “many few“:
You will notice a number of references to “great” and “greatness” in this chapter. Words often carry and convey ‘personal context stories’. These can mislead us, especially here. Therefore, it helps to mull over the various meanings for this character besides “great“: dà (大) big; large; great; heavy (rain, etc.); strong (wind, etc.); loud; general; main; major; size; age; greatly; fully; in a big way; on a big (or large) scale; eldest.
Respond to resentment using kindness. We all carry a certain level of resentment. Resentment or anger serves as a ‘counterweight’ to fear, that driver of life. Nevertheless, using kindness can help us avoid contending interactions to an extent… This is called the moral character of not contending, and Nature’s way never contending, yet adept in victory. Realizing the full scope of this natural process helps me tap in to kindness more readily… if not in the heat of the battle, then soon after. Responding to resentment using kindness is not something we are capable of choosing to do (i.e., the hoax of free will); however, realizing the process at work defuses the detrimental role that one’s thinking would otherwise play.
Close relationships are prime areas for resentments to fester and grow. I assume the intertwined egos projecting their personal needs and fear on each other foster this. Kindness is key… Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down To 2 Basic Traits
All that is great under heaven must arise from the small. This presages the next chapter’s A thousand mile journey begins below the feet. Indeed, I feel the word ‘great’ is illusionary. It is merely a projection of our own expectations and/or human hierarchical tendencies. The more I fall into the trap of regarding ‘great’ as an objective reality, the more unwittingly I become a participant in an unwinnable game. Using nature as my guide, I see nothing in all of nature that is greater than something else. The hundred or so elements each serve a function in nature, i.e., hydrogen is not ‘greater’ than helium; an whale is not ‘greater’ than a worm. That we may regard a whale greater than a worm merely reflects our own biases (needs and fears). Accordingly, the wise man, in the end, doesn’t support greatness.
It may help to dig into the other meanings of the character that I translated as “support“: I used the falling tone meaning, but you’ll notice that the rising tone meanings lend a similar flavor.
Wèi (为) <formal> stand for, support.
Wéi (为) do; act; act as; serve as; become; be; mean; <preposition> (for passive).
By the way, this character is prominent in line 1: 为无为 = Do without doing.
This wéi wú wéi or (wú wéi) has become a popular cliché of sorts in modern times. I suppose it stumps the most action obsessed Western mind, or Eastern mind for that matter. Here is a breakdown of the characters: do (act; act as; serve as; be; mean; support) nothing (without; not) do (act; act as; serve as; be; mean; support), 为无为 (wéi wú wéi.) The more one falls under the illusion of self (ego), and thus believes they have free will, the more inscrutable wéi wú wéi.