Resonance of Way


Way is empty.
Use it: it never needs filling.
An abyss so deep
it seems ancestor to the ten thousand things,
it blunts edges, loosens tangles, softens glare, mingles dust.
A clarity so clear it only seems real,
whose child could it be?
Apparently it precedes gods and creators.’

I’ve posted links to David Hinton’s excellent translation of Lao Tsu’s  Tao Te Ching before now.  It was Justin who first brought it to my attention as a translation and being a short and highly potent work it’s definitely been worth the repeated attention over time.

Recently, I noticed a period when the site which contains the translation was not available and as such – with it now being available again, I felt it worth reminding that people should read this excellent and thought provoking work while it is still up and then buy a copy if it suits (there are well priced copies around the web presently).  The internet’s openness to the provision of fully available material has changed over time and it is simply impossible to know how long this will be around.

Online Tao Te Ching

At present, this link is via an internet archive page.  As was pointed out at the same time, Hinton’s introduction may be less helpful, but the translation itself is apt to configure well the sometime-paradoxical openings of thought in this direction.

‘…Way is perennially doing nothing so there’s nothing it doesn’t do…’

The Guodian bamboo slip version, found in 1993 is the earlest version,  found on 71 strips of bamboo which survive from circa 300 BCE

There is also a very interesting resource here, detailing the various translations of the Tao Te Ching as well as giving information on the different versions of the manuscript and their discoveries (in Han era burial chambers), which detail variations and changes between the manuscripts.

‘Mawangdui Laotzi’ painted on silk  around 200 BCE and found in 1973


The valley spirit never dies.
It’s called dark female-enigma,
and the gateway of dark female-enigma
is called the root of heaven and earth,
gossamer so unceasing it seems real.
Use it: it’s effortless.’


In yielding is completion.
In bent is straight.
In hollow is full.
In exhaustion is renewal.
In little is contentment.
In much is confusion.
This is how a sage embraces primal unity as the measure of all beneath heaven.
Give up self-reflection
and you’re soon enlightened.
Give up self-definition
and you’re soon apparent.
Give up self-promotion
and you’re soon proverbial.
Give up self-esteem
and you’re soon perennial.
Simply give up contention
and soon nothing in all beneath heaven contends with you.
It was hardly empty talk
when the ancients declared
In yielding is completion.
Once you perfect completion
you’ve returned home to it all.’

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