In the opposite direction, of the way ‘it’ moves.
Loss through death, of the way ‘it’ uses.
All under heaven is born in having
Having is born in nothing.
1) turn over (in an opposite direction; in reverse; inside out) (者) road (way, principle; speak; think) of move (stir; act; change; use; arouse). 反者道之动。(făn zhĕ dào zhī dòng.)
2) weak (inferior <frml> lose through death) (者) road (way, principle; speak; think) of use (employ > eat; drink; > hence). 弱者道之用。(ruò zhĕ dào zhī yòng.)
3) under heaven all things on earth give birth to (bear; grow; existence; life) in (at, to, from, by, than, out of) have (exist), 天下万物生于有，(tiān xià wàn wù shēng yú yŏu,)
4) have (exist) give birth to (bear; grow; existence; life) in (at, to, from, by, than, out of) nothing (without; not). 有生于无。(yŏu shēng yú wú.)
Work in Progress
Lines 1 & 2: I am rethinking the ‘it’ that I inserted in these two lines (i.e., …of the way ‘it’ moves). ‘It’ makes for odd reading.
Of course, this can serve a useful purpose in that it forces the mind to think outside the box a bit more than it would if phrased in a normal way, like D.C. Lau’s Turning back is how the way moves; Weakness is the means the way employs (1).
On the other hand, it may be unnecessarily confusing. So, I’m dropping the ‘it’ for now. ‘It’ isn’t even in the original in the first place, as you will notice in the Word for Word just below. What’s more, the change still reads odd enough to jar the mind sufficiently (and maybe even more for all I know).
turn over (in an opposite direction; in reverse; inside out) (者) road (way, principle; speak; think) of move (stir; act; change; use; arouse). 反者道之动。(făn zhĕ dào zhī dòng.)
weak (inferior <frml> lose through death) (者) road (way, principle; speak; think) of use (employ > eat; drink; > hence). 弱者道之用。(ruò zhĕ dào zhī yòng.)
Another option could be to move “of” to the front of the line, which gives us, Of loss through death, the way uses. However, it may not work so well for line 1: Of the opposite direction, the way moves. I could put “in” instead of “of”, but then I’m getting further afield from the literal original. Beside, having it a little awkward still helps prod thinking in new ways… if you allow it to and don’t get upset that it takes extra work to read. 😉
Line 2: I choose to go with the more formal meaning of the word ruò (弱) loss through death , rather than weakness. I figure death is the ultimate manifestation of weakness, inferior, failure, loss, etc. Those other aspects are merely ‘death light’. Correlations helps illuminate this emergent property side of death. Put on your ‘big picture glasses’ and try pondering the profound sameness that death and its correlation’s cousins share: death » nothing » sleep » depressed » lethargic » silence » passive » dark » end » infinity » stillness » peace » valley » loss » empty » failure » eternity » shadowy… and so on)
In the opposite direction, of the way moves brings to mind the view that living is like a journey down a river. We tend to look in directions that lie ahead, to what we imagine is coming rather than where we’ve been (2). The basis of where we are, however, lies in what has gone before. ‘In the opposite direction’ points back toward the cause rather than the effect. It is all too easy to get swept away with attempting to arrange effects and turn a blind eye to causes (See symptoms point of view). In the opposite direction is the contrarian direction, an ‘outside the box’ thinking that can serve us well as long as it doesn’t reach irrational extremes (which it often may, alas).
Loss through death, of the way uses is a marvelously succinct way to nail down reality. The core of weakness in my view is entropy, and Loss through death, of the way uses express it well, although perhaps not as poetically. Or maybe it is just that I’ve been reading D.C. Lau’s ‘Weakness is the means the way employs‘ for so long.
I’ve now come to see all that is ostensibly ‘high’ as having its foundation in the ‘low’, and all that is ostensibly ‘more’ as based in ‘less’. I guess I’ve completely brainwashed myself, or as I prefer to see it, see things more as they may truly be, not as the bio-hoodwink invites me to feel (and subsequently believe). The act of living is actually the vital struggle to resist entropy that pulls all living things. The long-term futility of this leaves me in awe; life strives on diligently in the face of certain loss (death). It is as though loss is nipping at the heels of life, which drives life to flee its grasp for as long as it can—the bio-hoodwink promises us escape is possible. Ha!
Another way to think about this ‘Loss through death, of the way uses’ is how it causes need. Hunger and thirst being among the most primary forms; if these needs are not satiated, death comes quickly. The way uses the realm of death to manifest hunger; hunger drives all life to eat food to supply the energy needed to strive on forestalling death for another day. Everything (and I mean absolutely everything) animals do originates in whatever hunger each feels it needs to satiate to further its life.
The world around me, seen as emergent properties of the great Taoist nothing and its offspring loss, death and hunger, becomes very understandable, straightforward, and simple. Now here are a few chapters that relate:
In the opposite direction, of the way moves.
Loss through death, of the way uses.
All under heaven give birth to having
Having gives birth to nothing.
(1) I’ll admit, the terser, literal Tao Te Ching may jog my thinking more now due to the 40+ years I was reading D.C. Lau’s translation. The wording became too predictable… although in a nice way. By definition, ‘predictability’ can’t help but impede self-discovery, especially in regards to wanting to see life through Taoist eyes. Of course, when I first read D.C. Lau’s translation in 1964, nothing was predictable; only two chapters resonated with me after that first reading. On the other hand, I really do fathom deeper meaning through the literal; the terse directness helps, whereas attempts to make it sound culturally ‘pretty’ can easily mislead. Although to be fair, not lead us where we don’t truly wish to go at the time.
(2) Of course, as one gets older, there is less to look forward to; the loss of one’s life looms ahead. Then, we begin to look more in life’s rear view mirror. Wisdom lies to one extent or another in that opposite direction rather than forward to illusions of progress.
Chapter of the Week
Turning back is how the way moves corresponds to the correlation’s derived(1) world-view that ‘time returns’. i.e., time moves backwards, time stays still(2). Sure, saying that ‘time returns’ defies common sense and observation, but no less so than saying, Turning back is how the way moves, or as I put it below, In the opposite direction, of the way ‘it’ moves.
Perhaps we trust common sense and observation a little too much for our own good. Surely, the purpose of evolution is not to enable living things to know how ‘it’ really is, or works. Evolution is all about ensuring that living things see ‘reality’ in such a way that drives them to compete (or cooperate) to survive. If that means using the way to hoodwink all us living things, then so be it.
The wonder of the Tao Te Ching is that it attempts to help us see ‘it’ from the other side – in reverse and inside out… to defy common sense in order to stumble into ‘ultra-common sense’. The downside is that ‘reality’ is often just the opposite of how it appears to be. This can be a ‘little’ disconcerting and takes time getting used to (if ever). The upside is that if you take ‘it’ seriously, you can often spot good fortune perching and disaster crouching in a timely way. What more could one ask for?
That ‘symptoms point of view‘ I’m always touting is expressed here succinctly in Loss through death, of the way ‘it’ uses and Having is born in nothing (or as Lau puts it: Weakness is the means the way employs, & Something from Nothing). This is why judging a book by its cover is utterly misleading. It is not important what ‘facts’ we think see; the underlying causes are what enlightens. All one’s actions are merely reactions to one’s intuitive sense of the silent and void. It’s the cause. It drives us to do, or not do, whatever. The advantage of looking as deeply as possible using a ‘symptoms point of view’ is not that you’ll get a clear and distinct view of what is happening. It’s just the opposite, and there in lies an advantage. This helps you be more tentative, hesitant, vacant, and murky like muddy water. Only then can the teaching that uses no words be heard.
(2) What is time anyway? The experience we have in what we call ‘time’ is actually our experience of ‘energy moving’. Clocks don’t measure time; you might say that they measure energy ‘within time’. If you can loosen the common sense meanings to which you were conditioned from birth, you will experience time (or perhaps I should say eternity) differently.
Part of our common sense meanings are due to cultural conditioning, and part due to natural instinct as I said above. Being so deeply rooted in our being, ‘common sense meanings’ are not about to, poof – vanish. Nor need they. Simply loosen your trust in ‘common sense’ enough so you can notice nature’s hoodwinks.
There is a bonus too. Those weird and paradoxical effects of Einstein’s space-time relativity will begin to make simple sense!