Chapter 11 How to make use of non-existence.
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(Version and commentary of He Shanggong in English)


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11. 1  
Thirty spokes unite in one nave.

In ancient times, the wheels had thirty spokes, corresponding to the number of the moon (month). They unite in one nave, as the nave is empty within. Therefore all the spokes unite there. Who practises asceticism must get rid of the feelings, do away with the desires and cause the five viscera to be empty. Then the spirits return there. Who governs a country, if he alone is able to keep the masses together, then the weak may protect the strong.

Through what it has not the wheel can be used.

Not-speaking is emptiness. Through the nave’s being empty the wheel is able to move. Through the carriage’s being empty man is able to ride in it.

Of suitable clay vessels are made.

埏 = 和 suitable, 埴 = 土 clay. Of suitable clay eating and drinking vessels are made.

Through what it has not a vessel can be used.

A vessel is empty within. Thereby it can be used.

By piercing doors and windows rooms are made.

This means that rooms are made [Evidently part of the commentary is missing.]

Through what it has not a room can be used.

This means: Doors and windows are empty, so that men may leave and enter and look through them. The room is empty, so that , men are able to inhabit it. In this its usefulness consists.

Therefore existence is advantageous.

The thing is more useful than the appearance. If there are things in a vessel, [it is to be feared that the vessel will be broken]. If there are men in a room, it is to be feared that the room will break down. If there are spirits in the belly, it is to be feared that the form will vanish.

Non-existence is useful.

This means : Emptiness may thus make use of the spirits to receive all things. Therefore it is said: Empty nothingness is able to work on the existing forms. Tao is empty.

- Chinese :

《道德經》: 三十輻,共一轂,當其無,有車之用。埏埴以為器,當其無,有器之用。鑿戶牖以為室,當其無,有室之用。故有之以為利,無之以為用。

《老子河上公章句·無用》: 三十輻共一轂,當其無,有車之用。埏埴以為器,當其無,有器之用。鑿戶牖以為室,當其無有室之用。故有之以為利,無之以為用。

《馬王堆·老子甲道經》: 卅□□□□□其無,□□之用。□然埴為器,當其無,有埴器□□□□□□,當其無,有□之用也。故有之以為利,無之以為用。

《馬王堆·老子乙道經》: 卅楅,同一轂,當其無,有車之用也。然埴而為器,當其無,有埴器之用也。戶牖,當其無,有室之用也。故有之以為利,無之以為用。
(⁎)
- He Shanggong (Chinese) :

三十輻共一轂,古者車三十輻,法月數也。 共一轂者,轂中有孔,故眾輻共湊之。 治身者當除情去欲,使五藏空虛,神乃歸之。 治國者寡能,摠眾弱共使強也。當其無,有車之用。無,謂空虛。 轂中空虛,輪得轉行,轝中空虛,人得載其上也。埏埴以為器,埏,和也。埴,土也。 和土以為飲食之器。當其無,有器之用。器中空虛,故得有所盛受。鑿戶牖以為室,謂作屋室。當其無有室之用。言戶牖空虛,人得以出入觀視;室中空虛,人得以居處,是其用。故有之以為利,利,物也,利於形用。 器中有物,室中有人,恐其屋破壞,腹中有神,畏其形亡也。無之以為用。言虛空者乃可用盛受萬物,故曰虛無能制有形。道者空也。
(Ⅱ)
- Wing-Tsit Chan (1963) :

Thirty spokes are united around the hub to make a wheel, But it is on its non-being that the utility of the carriage depends.
Clay is moulded to form a utensil, But it is on its non-being that the utility of the utensil depends.
Doors and windows are cut out to make a room, But it is on its non-being that the utility of the room depends.
Therefore turn being into advantage, and turn non-being into utility.
(Ⅲ)
- Ellen Marie Chen (1989) :

Thirty spokes share one hub to make a wheel.
Through its non-being (wu),
There is (yu) the use (yung) of the carriage.
Mold clay into a vessel (ch'i).
Through its non-being (wu),
There is (yu) the use (yung) of the vessel.
Cut out doors and windows to make a house.
Through its non-being (wu),
There is (yu) the use (yung) of the house.
Therefore in the being (yu-chih) of a thing,
There lies the benefit (li).
In the non-being (wu-chih) of a thing,
There lies its use (yun).
(Ⅳ)
- Ch'u Ta-Kao (1904) :

Thirty spokes unite in one nave, And because of the part where nothing exists we have the use of a carriage wheel.
Clay is moulded into vessels, And because of the space where nothing exists we are able to use them as vessels.
Doors and windows are cut out in the walls of a house, And because they are empty spaces, we are able to use them.
Therefore, on the one hand we have the benefit of existence, and on the other, we make use of non-existence.
(Ⅴ)
- World by world translation :

Traditional // simplified // pinyin // definition // dictionary
三十 // 三十 // sān shí // ① trente, 30 // Chinese-French
三十 // 三十 // sān shí // ① thirty ② 30 // CC-CEDICT
輻 // 辐 // fú // ① rayon // Chinese-French
輻 // 辐 // fú // ① spoke of a wheel // CC-CEDICT
共 // 共 // gòng // ① commun ② général ③ partager ④ ensemble ⑤ au total ⑥ en tout // Chinese-French
共 // 共 // gòng // ① common ② general ③ to share ④ together ⑤ total ⑥ altogether ⑦ abbr. for 共產黨|共产党[Gong4 chan3 dang3], Communist party // CC-CEDICT
一 // 一 // yī // ① 1 (nombre) ② un // Chinese-French
一 // 一 // yī // "① one ② 1 ③ single ④ a (article) ⑤ as soon as ⑥ entire ⑦ whole ⑧ all ⑨ throughout ⑩ ""one"" radical in Chinese characters (Kangxi radical 1) ⑪ also pr. [yao1] for greater clarity when spelling out numbers digit by digit" // CC-CEDICT
轂 // 毂 // gū // ① roues // Chinese-French
轂 // 毂 // gū // ① wheel // CC-CEDICT
轂 // 毂 // gǔ // ① moyeu // Chinese-French
轂 // 毂 // gǔ // ① hub of wheel // CC-CEDICT
當 // 当 // dāng // ① travailler comme ② porter ③ accepter ④ prendre la responsabilité de ⑤ devoir ⑥ falloir ⑦ égal ⑧ en présence de ⑨ devant (qqn) ⑩ quand ⑪ au moment où ⑫ pendant que // Chinese-French
當 // 当 // dāng // ① to be ② to act as ③ manage ④ withstand ⑤ when ⑥ during ⑦ ought ⑧ should ⑨ match equally ⑩ equal ⑪ same ⑫ obstruct ⑬ just at (a time or place) ⑭ on the spot ⑮ right ⑯ just at // CC-CEDICT
當 // 当 // dàng // ① convenable ② juste ③ condidérer comme ④ prendre pour ⑤ égaler ⑥ croire ⑦ penser ⑧ mettre en gage ⑨ hypothéquer // Chinese-French
當 // 当 // dàng // ① at or in the very same... ② suitable ③ adequate ④ fitting ⑤ proper ⑥ to replace ⑦ to regard as ⑧ to think ⑨ to pawn ⑩ (coll.) to fail (a student) // CC-CEDICT
其 // 其 // qí // ① son ② sa ③ ses ④ leur ⑤ leurs ⑥ il(s) ⑦ elle(s) ⑧ ceci ⑨ cela // Chinese-French
其 // 其 // qí // ① his ② her ③ its ④ their ⑤ that ⑥ such ⑦ it (refers to sth preceding it) // CC-CEDICT
無 // 无 // wú // ① non ② 71e radical // Chinese-French
無 // 无 // wú // ① not to have ② no ③ none ④ not ⑤ to lack ⑥ un- ⑦ -less // CC-CEDICT
有 // 有 // yǒu // ① avoir ② posséder ③ il y a ④ exister // Chinese-French
有 // 有 // yǒu // ① to have ② there is ③ there are ④ to exist ⑤ to be // CC-CEDICT
車 // 车 // chē // ① véhicule ② machine ③ tourner ④ façonner // Chinese-French
車 // 车 // chē // ① surname Che // CC-CEDICT
車 // 车 // chē // ① car ② vehicle ③ CL:輛|辆[liang4] ④ machine ⑤ to shape with a lathe // CC-CEDICT
車 // 车 // jū // ① chariot (pièce dans le jeu d'échecs chinois Xiangqi) // Chinese-French
車 // 车 // jū // ① war chariot (archaic) ② rook (in Chinese chess) ③ rook (in chess) // CC-CEDICT
之 // 之 // zhī // ① (remplaçant une personne ou une chose comme complément) ② (particule possessive dans différentes expressions) // Chinese-French
之 // 之 // zhī // ① (possessive particle, literary equivalent of 的[de5]) ② him ③ her ④ it // CC-CEDICT
用 // 用 // yòng // ① utiliser ② employer ③ avoir à faire ceci ou cela ④ manger ou boire ⑤ frais ou dépenses ⑥ utilité ⑦ c'est pourquoi ⑧ donc ⑨ par conséquent // Chinese-French
用 // 用 // yòng // ① to use ② to employ ③ to have to ④ to eat or drink ⑤ expense or outlay ⑥ usefulness ⑦ hence ⑧ therefore // CC-CEDICT
埏 // 埏 // shān // ① mélanger de l'eau et de la terre glaise // Chinese-French
埏 // 埏 // shān // ① to mix water with clay // CC-CEDICT
埏 // 埏 // yán // ① mélanger de l'eau et de la terre glaise // Chinese-French
埏 // 埏 // yán // ① boundary // CC-CEDICT
埴 // 埴 // zhí // ① argile ② argileux ③ objet d'argile ④ statuette ⑤ poterie ⑥ façonner en argile // Chinese-French
埴 // 埴 // zhí // ① soil with large clay content // CC-CEDICT
以為 // 以为 // yǐ wéi // ① croire ② penser ③ s'imaginer // Chinese-French
以為 // 以为 // yǐ wéi // ① to believe ② to think ③ to consider ④ to be under the impression // CC-CEDICT
器 // 器 // qì // ① ustensile ② appareil ③ objet ④ organe ⑤ capacité ⑥ talent // Chinese-French
器 // 器 // qì // ① device ② tool ③ utensil ④ CL:臺|台[tai2] // CC-CEDICT
當 // 当 // dāng // ① travailler comme ② porter ③ accepter ④ prendre la responsabilité de ⑤ devoir ⑥ falloir ⑦ égal ⑧ en présence de ⑨ devant (qqn) ⑩ quand ⑪ au moment où ⑫ pendant que // Chinese-French
當 // 当 // dāng // ① to be ② to act as ③ manage ④ withstand ⑤ when ⑥ during ⑦ ought ⑧ should ⑨ match equally ⑩ equal ⑪ same ⑫ obstruct ⑬ just at (a time or place) ⑭ on the spot ⑮ right ⑯ just at // CC-CEDICT
當 // 当 // dàng // ① convenable ② juste ③ condidérer comme ④ prendre pour ⑤ égaler ⑥ croire ⑦ penser ⑧ mettre en gage ⑨ hypothéquer // Chinese-French
當 // 当 // dàng // ① at or in the very same... ② suitable ③ adequate ④ fitting ⑤ proper ⑥ to replace ⑦ to regard as ⑧ to think ⑨ to pawn ⑩ (coll.) to fail (a student) // CC-CEDICT
其 // 其 // qí // ① son ② sa ③ ses ④ leur ⑤ leurs ⑥ il(s) ⑦ elle(s) ⑧ ceci ⑨ cela // Chinese-French
其 // 其 // qí // ① his ② her ③ its ④ their ⑤ that ⑥ such ⑦ it (refers to sth preceding it) // CC-CEDICT
無 // 无 // wú // ① non ② 71e radical // Chinese-French
無 // 无 // wú // ① not to have ② no ③ none ④ not ⑤ to lack ⑥ un- ⑦ -less // CC-CEDICT
有 // 有 // yǒu // ① avoir ② posséder ③ il y a ④ exister // Chinese-French
有 // 有 // yǒu // ① to have ② there is ③ there are ④ to exist ⑤ to be // CC-CEDICT
器 // 器 // qì // ① ustensile ② appareil ③ objet ④ organe ⑤ capacité ⑥ talent // Chinese-French
器 // 器 // qì // ① device ② tool ③ utensil ④ CL:臺|台[tai2] // CC-CEDICT
之 // 之 // zhī // ① (remplaçant une personne ou une chose comme complément) ② (particule possessive dans différentes expressions) // Chinese-French
之 // 之 // zhī // ① (possessive particle, literary equivalent of 的[de5]) ② him ③ her ④ it // CC-CEDICT
用 // 用 // yòng // ① utiliser ② employer ③ avoir à faire ceci ou cela ④ manger ou boire ⑤ frais ou dépenses ⑥ utilité ⑦ c'est pourquoi ⑧ donc ⑨ par conséquent // Chinese-French
用 // 用 // yòng // ① to use ② to employ ③ to have to ④ to eat or drink ⑤ expense or outlay ⑥ usefulness ⑦ hence ⑧ therefore // CC-CEDICT
鑿 // 凿 // záo // ① chisel ② to bore a hole ③ to chisel or dig ④ certain ⑤ authentic ⑥ irrefutable ⑦ also pr. [zuo4] // CC-CEDICT
鑿 // 凿 // zuò // ① burin ② creuser ③ percer // Chinese-French
戶牖 // 户牖 // hù yǒu // ① door and window ② the home // CC-CEDICT
以為 // 以为 // yǐ wéi // ① croire ② penser ③ s'imaginer // Chinese-French
以為 // 以为 // yǐ wéi // ① to believe ② to think ③ to consider ④ to be under the impression // CC-CEDICT
室 // 室 // shì // ① salle ② pièce // Chinese-French
室 // 室 // shì // ① surname Shi // CC-CEDICT
室 // 室 // shì // ① room ② work unit ③ grave ④ scabbard ⑤ family or clan ⑥ one of the 28 constellations of Chinese astronomy // CC-CEDICT
當 // 当 // dāng // ① travailler comme ② porter ③ accepter ④ prendre la responsabilité de ⑤ devoir ⑥ falloir ⑦ égal ⑧ en présence de ⑨ devant (qqn) ⑩ quand ⑪ au moment où ⑫ pendant que // Chinese-French
當 // 当 // dāng // ① to be ② to act as ③ manage ④ withstand ⑤ when ⑥ during ⑦ ought ⑧ should ⑨ match equally ⑩ equal ⑪ same ⑫ obstruct ⑬ just at (a time or place) ⑭ on the spot ⑮ right ⑯ just at // CC-CEDICT
當 // 当 // dàng // ① convenable ② juste ③ condidérer comme ④ prendre pour ⑤ égaler ⑥ croire ⑦ penser ⑧ mettre en gage ⑨ hypothéquer // Chinese-French
當 // 当 // dàng // ① at or in the very same... ② suitable ③ adequate ④ fitting ⑤ proper ⑥ to replace ⑦ to regard as ⑧ to think ⑨ to pawn ⑩ (coll.) to fail (a student) // CC-CEDICT
其 // 其 // qí // ① son ② sa ③ ses ④ leur ⑤ leurs ⑥ il(s) ⑦ elle(s) ⑧ ceci ⑨ cela // Chinese-French
其 // 其 // qí // ① his ② her ③ its ④ their ⑤ that ⑥ such ⑦ it (refers to sth preceding it) // CC-CEDICT
無 // 无 // wú // ① non ② 71e radical // Chinese-French
無 // 无 // wú // ① not to have ② no ③ none ④ not ⑤ to lack ⑥ un- ⑦ -less // CC-CEDICT
有 // 有 // yǒu // ① avoir ② posséder ③ il y a ④ exister // Chinese-French
有 // 有 // yǒu // ① to have ② there is ③ there are ④ to exist ⑤ to be // CC-CEDICT
室 // 室 // shì // ① salle ② pièce // Chinese-French
室 // 室 // shì // ① surname Shi // CC-CEDICT
室 // 室 // shì // ① room ② work unit ③ grave ④ scabbard ⑤ family or clan ⑥ one of the 28 constellations of Chinese astronomy // CC-CEDICT
之 // 之 // zhī // ① (remplaçant une personne ou une chose comme complément) ② (particule possessive dans différentes expressions) // Chinese-French
之 // 之 // zhī // ① (possessive particle, literary equivalent of 的[de5]) ② him ③ her ④ it // CC-CEDICT
用 // 用 // yòng // ① utiliser ② employer ③ avoir à faire ceci ou cela ④ manger ou boire ⑤ frais ou dépenses ⑥ utilité ⑦ c'est pourquoi ⑧ donc ⑨ par conséquent // Chinese-French
用 // 用 // yòng // ① to use ② to employ ③ to have to ④ to eat or drink ⑤ expense or outlay ⑥ usefulness ⑦ hence ⑧ therefore // CC-CEDICT
故 // 故 // gù // ① incident ② cause ③ à dessein ④ exprès ⑤ raison ⑥ ancien ⑦ mourir // Chinese-French
故 // 故 // gù // ① happening ② instance ③ reason ④ cause ⑤ intentional ⑥ former ⑦ old ⑧ friend ⑨ therefore ⑩ hence ⑪ (of people) to die, dead // CC-CEDICT
有 // 有 // yǒu // ① avoir ② posséder ③ il y a ④ exister // Chinese-French
有 // 有 // yǒu // ① to have ② there is ③ there are ④ to exist ⑤ to be // CC-CEDICT
之 // 之 // zhī // ① (remplaçant une personne ou une chose comme complément) ② (particule possessive dans différentes expressions) // Chinese-French
之 // 之 // zhī // ① (possessive particle, literary equivalent of 的[de5]) ② him ③ her ④ it // CC-CEDICT
以為 // 以为 // yǐ wéi // ① croire ② penser ③ s'imaginer // Chinese-French
以為 // 以为 // yǐ wéi // ① to believe ② to think ③ to consider ④ to be under the impression // CC-CEDICT
利 // 利 // lì // ① profit ② intérêt ③ tranchant ④ favorable // Chinese-French
利 // 利 // lì // ① surname Li // CC-CEDICT
利 // 利 // lì // ① sharp ② favorable ③ advantage ④ benefit ⑤ profit ⑥ interest ⑦ to do good to ⑧ to benefit // CC-CEDICT
無 // 无 // wú // ① non ② 71e radical // Chinese-French
無 // 无 // wú // ① not to have ② no ③ none ④ not ⑤ to lack ⑥ un- ⑦ -less // CC-CEDICT
之 // 之 // zhī // ① (remplaçant une personne ou une chose comme complément) ② (particule possessive dans différentes expressions) // Chinese-French
之 // 之 // zhī // ① (possessive particle, literary equivalent of 的[de5]) ② him ③ her ④ it // CC-CEDICT
以為 // 以为 // yǐ wéi // ① croire ② penser ③ s'imaginer // Chinese-French
以為 // 以为 // yǐ wéi // ① to believe ② to think ③ to consider ④ to be under the impression // CC-CEDICT
用 // 用 // yòng // ① utiliser ② employer ③ avoir à faire ceci ou cela ④ manger ou boire ⑤ frais ou dépenses ⑥ utilité ⑦ c'est pourquoi ⑧ donc ⑨ par conséquent // Chinese-French
用 // 用 // yòng // ① to use ② to employ ③ to have to ④ to eat or drink ⑤ expense or outlay ⑥ usefulness ⑦ hence ⑧ therefore // CC-CEDICT
(Ⅵ)
- Yi Wu (1989) :

Thirty strokes radiate from the axle,
And there is a good working cart when it is empty.
Clay is given shapes for holding things,
And there is a good working ware when it is not full.
Windows and doors have been made,
And there is a good working house when it is not occupied.
Therefore, in general principle,
Seeking after being is for profit,
Keeping non-being is for use.
(Ⅶ)
- Lynn (2004) :

Thirty spokes share one hub.
It is exactly where there is nothing of it that the functionality of the wheel resides.
Mix clay with water to make a vessel.
It is exactly where there is nothing of it that the functionality of the vessel resides.
Cut doors and windows to make a room.
It is exactly where there is nothing of it that the functionality of the room resides.
Therefore this is how what is there provides benefit and how what is not there provides functionality.
(Ⅷ)


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