Chapter 12 How to keep off desires.
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(Version and commentary of He Shanggong in English)


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12. 1  
The five colours make man’s eyes blind.

Who strives greedily and lasciviously for beauty, hurts the spirits and loses enlightenment.

The five notes make man’s ears deaf.

If one likes to hear the five notes, then the harmonious atmosphere flees, and the heart is not able to listen to the sounds of soundlessness.

The five tastes cause man’s mouth to lose.

爽 shuang means = wang 亡 to loses. If one delights in the five tastes, the mouth loses. This means that he loose the Tao.

Chasing and hunting makes man’s heart mad.

Man’s spirits like peace and quietude. Through chasing and panting the spirits become disturbed. Therefore they are maddened.

Treasures difficult to obtain make man’s behaviour hurtful.

妨 = 傷 to hurt. Treasures difficult to obtain are gold, silver, pearls and jewels. Then the behaviour becomes hurtful and the body disgraced.

Therefore the saint takes care of his belly.

He cherishes the five feelings and does away with the six affections, moderates the will and nourishes the spirits.

He does not take care of his eyes.

The eyes ought not to look wrong. To look wrong destroys the spirit outwardly.

Therefore he flees this and chooses that.

He flees this, the wrong looking of the eyes. He chooses that, the nourishing of the spirits within the belly.

- Chinese :

《道德經》: 五色令人目盲;五音令人耳聾;五味令人口爽;馳騁田獵,令人心發狂;難得之貨,令人行妨。是以聖人為腹不為目,故去彼取此。

《老子河上公章句·檢欲》: 五色令人目盲;五音令人耳聾;五味令人口爽;馳騁畋獵,令人心發狂,難得之貨,令人行妨。是以聖人為腹,不為目,故去彼取此。

《馬王堆·老子甲道經》: 五色使人目明;馳騁田臘,使人□□□;難得之貨,使人之行方;五味使人之口爽;五音使人之耳聾。是以聲人之治也,為腹不□□,故去罷耳此。

《馬王堆·老子乙道經》: 色使人目盲;馳騁田臘,使人心發狂;難得之貨,○使人之行仿;五味使人之口爽;五音使人之耳□。是以聖人之治也,為腹而不為目,故去彼而取此。
(⁎)
- He Shanggong (Chinese) :

五色令人目盲;貪淫好色,則傷精失明也。五音令人耳聾;好聽五音,則和氣去心,不能聽無聲之聲。五味令人口爽;爽,亡也。 人嗜於五味於口,則口亡,言失於道也。馳騁畋獵,令人心發狂,人精神好安靜,馳騁呼吸,精神散亡,故發狂也。難得之貨,令人行妨。妨,傷也。 難得之貨,謂金銀珠玉,心貪意欲,不知饜足,則行傷身辱也。是以聖人為腹,守五性,去六情,節志氣,養神明。不為目,目不妄視,妄視泄精於外。故去彼取此。去彼目之妄視,取此腹之養性。
(Ⅱ)
- Wing-Tsit Chan (1963) :

The five colours cause one's eyes to be blind. The five tones cause one's ears to be deaf. The five flavours cause one's palate to be spoiled.
Racing and hunting cause one's mind to be mad. Goods that are hard to get injure one's activities.
For this reason the sage is concerned with the belly and not the eyes, Therefore he rejects the one but accepts the other.
(Ⅲ)
- Ellen Marie Chen (1989) :

The five colors blind a person's eyes;
The five musical notes deafen a person's ears;
The five flavors ruin a person's taste buds.
Horse-racing, hunting and chasing,
Drive a person's mind (hsin) to madness.
Hard-to-get goods,
Hinder a person's actions.
Therefore the sage is for the belly, not for the eyes.
Therefore he leaves this and chooses that.
(Ⅳ)
- Ch'u Ta-Kao (1904) :

The five colours will blind a man's sight. The five sounds will deaden a man's hearing. The five tastes will spoil a man's palate.
Chasing and hunting will drive a man wild Things hard to get will do harm to a man's conduct.
Therefore the Sage makes provision for the stomach and not for the eye. He rejects the latter and chooses the former.
(Ⅴ)
- World by world translation :

Traditional // simplified // pinyin // definition // dictionary
五色 // 五色 // wǔ sè // ① multicolores ② arc-en-ciel // Chinese-French
五色 // 五色 // wǔ sè // ① multi-colored ② the rainbow ③ garish // CC-CEDICT
令人 // 令人 // lìng rén // ① provoquer le sentiment ou l'action d'une personne // Chinese-French
令人 // 令人 // lìng rén // ① to cause sb (to do) ② to make one (feel sth) ③ (used in constructing words for feelings such as anger, surprise, sympathy etc) // CC-CEDICT
目盲 // 目盲 // mù máng // ① blind ② blindness // CC-CEDICT
五音 // 五音 // wǔ yīn // ① five notes of pentatonic scale, roughly do, re, mi, sol, la ② five classes of initial consonants of Chinese phonetics, namely: 喉音[hou2 yin1], 牙音[ya2 yin1], 舌音[she2 yin1], 齒音|齿音[chi3 yin1], 唇音[chun2 yin1] // CC-CEDICT
令人 // 令人 // lìng rén // ① provoquer le sentiment ou l'action d'une personne // Chinese-French
令人 // 令人 // lìng rén // ① to cause sb (to do) ② to make one (feel sth) ③ (used in constructing words for feelings such as anger, surprise, sympathy etc) // CC-CEDICT
耳聾 // 耳聋 // ěr lóng // ① Surdité // Chinese-French
耳聾 // 耳聋 // ěr lóng // ① deaf // CC-CEDICT
五味 // 五味 // wǔ wèi // ① Goût // Chinese-French
五味 // 五味 // wǔ wèi // ① the five flavors, namely: sweet 甜, sour 酸, bitter 苦, spicy hot 辣, salty 鹹|咸 ② all kinds of flavors // CC-CEDICT
令人 // 令人 // lìng rén // ① provoquer le sentiment ou l'action d'une personne // Chinese-French
令人 // 令人 // lìng rén // ① to cause sb (to do) ② to make one (feel sth) ③ (used in constructing words for feelings such as anger, surprise, sympathy etc) // CC-CEDICT
口 // 口 // kǒu // ① bouche ② ouverture ③ entrée ④ passe ⑤ trou // Chinese-French
口 // 口 // kǒu // ① mouth ② classifier for things with mouths (people, domestic animals, cannons, wells etc) ③ classifier for bites or mouthfuls // CC-CEDICT
爽 // 爽 // shuǎng // ① clair ② serein // Chinese-French
爽 // 爽 // shuǎng // ① bright ② clear ③ crisp ④ open ⑤ frank ⑥ straightforward ⑦ to feel well ⑧ fine ⑨ pleasurable ⑩ invigorating ⑪ to deviate // CC-CEDICT
馳騁 // 驰骋 // chí chěng // ① galoper ② se précipiter // Chinese-French
馳騁 // 驰骋 // chí chěng // ① to gallop ② to rush headlong // CC-CEDICT
田獵 // 田猎 // tián liè // ① to hunt // CC-CEDICT
令人 // 令人 // lìng rén // ① provoquer le sentiment ou l'action d'une personne // Chinese-French
令人 // 令人 // lìng rén // ① to cause sb (to do) ② to make one (feel sth) ③ (used in constructing words for feelings such as anger, surprise, sympathy etc) // CC-CEDICT
心 // 心 // xīn // ① coeur ② pensée ③ esprit ④ intention // Chinese-French
心 // 心 // xīn // ① heart ② mind ③ intention ④ center ⑤ core ⑥ CL:顆|颗[ke1],個|个[ge4] // CC-CEDICT
發狂 // 发狂 // fā kuáng // ① devenir fou ② délirer // Chinese-French
發狂 // 发狂 // fā kuáng // ① crazy ② mad ③ madly // CC-CEDICT
難得 // 难得 // nán dé // ① précieux ② rare ③ peu fréquent // Chinese-French
難得 // 难得 // nán dé // ① seldom ② rare ③ hard to come by // 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
貨 // 货 // huò // ① marchandise // Chinese-French
貨 // 货 // huò // ① goods ② money ③ commodity ④ CL:個|个[ge4] // CC-CEDICT
令人 // 令人 // lìng rén // ① provoquer le sentiment ou l'action d'une personne // Chinese-French
令人 // 令人 // lìng rén // ① to cause sb (to do) ② to make one (feel sth) ③ (used in constructing words for feelings such as anger, surprise, sympathy etc) // CC-CEDICT
行 // 行 // xíng // ① marcher ② agir ③ faire ④ pratiquer ⑤ appliquer ⑥ d'accord ⑦ c'est bon ! ⑧ chacun des éléments : l’eau, le feu, le bois, le métal, la terre ⑨ bagages ⑩ quitter la maison ⑪ se marier (pour une fille) ⑫ ballade // Chinese-French
行 // 行 // xíng // ① to walk ② to go ③ to travel ④ a visit ⑤ temporary ⑥ makeshift ⑦ current ⑧ in circulation ⑨ to do ⑩ to perform ⑪ capable ⑫ competent ⑬ effective ⑭ all right ⑮ OK! ⑯ will do ⑰ behavior ⑱ conduct ⑲ Taiwan pr. [xing4] for the behavior-conduct sense // CC-CEDICT
行 // 行 // háng // ① classe ② sorte ③ rang ④ maison de commerce // Chinese-French
行 // 行 // háng // ① a row ② series ③ age order (of brothers) ④ profession ⑤ professional ⑥ relating to company // CC-CEDICT
行 // 行 // xìng // ① action // Chinese-French
妨 // 妨 // fáng // ① empêcher // Chinese-French
妨 // 妨 // fáng // ① to hinder ② (in the negative or interrogative) (no) harm ③ (what) harm // CC-CEDICT
是以 // 是以 // shì yǐ // ① par conséquent ② donc // Chinese-French
是以 // 是以 // shì yǐ // ① therefore ② thus ③ so // CC-CEDICT
聖人 // 圣人 // shèng rén // ① saint // Chinese-French
聖人 // 圣人 // shèng rén // ① saint ② sage ③ refers to Confucius 孔子[Kong3 zi3] ④ the current reigning Emperor // CC-CEDICT
為 // 为 // wèi // ① because of ② for ③ to // CC-CEDICT
為 // 为 // wéi // ① as (in the capacity of) ② to take sth as ③ to act as ④ to serve as ⑤ to behave as ⑥ to become ⑦ to be ⑧ to do ⑨ by (in the passive voice) // CC-CEDICT
腹 // 腹 // fù // ① ventre // Chinese-French
腹 // 腹 // fù // ① abdomen ② stomach ③ belly // CC-CEDICT
不 // 不 // bù // ① ne... pas ② non ③ (pour former une question placé à la fin d'une phrase, pour indiquer l'indifférence avec shen me ④ pour indiquer une alternative avec jiu) // Chinese-French
不 // 不 // bù // ① (negative prefix) ② not ③ no // CC-CEDICT
為 // 为 // wèi // ① because of ② for ③ to // CC-CEDICT
為 // 为 // wéi // ① as (in the capacity of) ② to take sth as ③ to act as ④ to serve as ⑤ to behave as ⑥ to become ⑦ to be ⑧ to do ⑨ by (in the passive voice) // CC-CEDICT
目 // 目 // mù // ① oeil ② index ③ liste ④ 109e radical // Chinese-French
目 // 目 // mù // ① eye ② item ③ section ④ list ⑤ catalogue ⑥ table of contents ⑦ order (taxonomy) ⑧ goal ⑨ name ⑩ title // CC-CEDICT
故去 // 故去 // gù qù // ① mourir ② la mort // Chinese-French
故去 // 故去 // gù qù // ① to die ② death // CC-CEDICT
彼 // 彼 // bǐ // ① celui-là ② l'autre // Chinese-French
彼 // 彼 // bǐ // ① that ② those ③ (one) another // CC-CEDICT
取 // 取 // qǔ // ① prendre ② reprendre ③ obtenir ④ adopter ⑤ choisir // Chinese-French
取 // 取 // qǔ // ① to take ② to get ③ to choose ④ to fetch // CC-CEDICT
此 // 此 // cǐ // ① ce ② ici // Chinese-French
此 // 此 // cǐ // ① this ② these // CC-CEDICT
(Ⅵ)
- Yi Wu (1989) :

Loud colors blind the eye.
Wild hunting maddens the mind.
Precious objects cause thefts.
Delicious food confuses the taste.
Beautiful sounds deafen the ear.
That's why wise politics chooses the essentials
In all its matters
Instead of contriving impressive shows.
(Ⅶ)
- Lynn (2004) :

The five colors make one's eyes blind;
the five notes make one's ears deaf;
the five flavors make one's mouth fail;
and sport hunting on horseback makes one's heart/mind go crazy.
Goods hard to get cause one to travel the road to harm.
This is why the sage provides for the belly but not for the eye.
Thus he rejects the one and keeps the other.
(Ⅷ)


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