Chapter 35 On the Te of humanity.
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(Version and commentary of He Shanggong in English)


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35. 1  
To him who holds fast to the great idea, the empire comes.

執 = 守 to keep. 象 the idea is Tao. If and the saint keeps Great Tao then all the people in the empire change their mind and return to him. If he practises asceticism then heaven causes the spirits to descend and to have intercourse within his self.

It comes without being endangered. Peace and quietude are great.

If all beings return without being endangered, then the empire is pacified and the families are peaceful, and the great peace is reached. If one practises asceticism without endangering the spirits, then the body is restful and extremely long lived.

Where there is joy and beauty, the passing guest remains.

餌 (lit. cake) = 美 beauty. The passing guest is unity. If a man is able to enjoy Tao, then unity remains. Unity leaves fulness and stays within emptiness. It appears suddenly like a passing guest.

But if Tao comes out of the mouth, how insipid, O! is its tastelessness!

When Tao leaves and enters the mouth, it is insipid and does not resemble the five tastes.

If one looks for it, it is not sufficient to be seen.

足 (to be sufficient) = 得 to be able to. Tao is formless and does not resemble the five colours that can be seen.

If one listens for it, it is not sufficient to be heard.

Tao does not resemble the five sounds that can be heard.

If one uses it, it cannot become exhausted.

If one uses Tao in governing a country, then the country is peaceful and the people are radiant. If one practises asceticism, then life is prolonged and there is no exhaustion of time.

- Chinese :

《道德經》: 執大象,天下往。往而不害,安平大。樂與餌,過客止。道之出口,淡乎其無味,視之不足見,聽之不足聞,用之不足既

《老子河上公章句·仁德》: 執大象,天下往。往而不害,安﹑平﹑太。樂與餌,過客止,道之出口,淡乎其無味,視之不足見,聽之不足聞,用之不足既。

《郭店·老子丙》: 埶大象,天下往。往而不害,安平大。樂與餌,過客止。故道□□□□淡呵其無味也。視之不足見,聽之不足聞,而不可既也。

《馬王堆·老子甲道經》: 執大象,□□往。往而不害,安平大。樂與餌,過格止。故道之出言也,曰淡呵其無味也,□□不足見也,聽之不足聞也,用之不可既也。

《馬王堆·老子乙道經》: 執大象,天下往。往而不害,安平大。樂與□,過格止。故道之出言也曰:淡呵其無味也,見之不足見也,聽之不足聞也,用之不可既也。
(⁎)
- He Shanggong (Chinese) :

執大象,天下往。執,守也。象,道也。聖人守大道,則天下萬民移心歸往之也。 治身則天降神明,往來於己也。往而不害,安﹑平﹑太。萬民歸往而不傷害,則國家安寧而致太平矣。 治身不害神明,則身安而大壽也。樂與餌,過客止,餌,美也。過客,一也。人能樂美於道,則一留止也。 一者,去盈而處虛,忽忽如過客。道之出口,淡乎其無味,道出入於口,淡淡非如五味有酸鹹苦甘辛也。視之不足見,足,得也。道無形,非若五色有青黃赤白黑可得見也。聽之不足聞,道非若五音有宮商角徵羽可得聽聞也。用之不足既。既,盡也。謂用道治國,則國安民昌。 治身則壽命延長,無有既盡之時也。
(Ⅱ)
- Wing-Tsit Chan (1963) :

Hold fast to the great form (Tao), And all the world will come. They come and will encounter no harm; But enjoy comfort, peace, and health.
When there are music and dainties, Passing strangers will stay.
But the words uttered by Tao, How insipid and tasteless! We look at it; it is imperceptible. We listen to it; it is inaudible. We use it; it is inexhaustible.
(Ⅲ)
- Ellen Marie Chen (1989) :

Hold aloft the Great Image (hsiang),
The whole world will go to it.
Going to it, they will meet with no harm,
Only safety, peace, and contentment (an p'ing t'ai).
When music and dainty dishes are offered,
The passers-by stop.
Tao, when it is uttered by the mouth,
Is so bland it has no flavor.
When looked at, it is not enough to be seen.
When listened to, it is not enough to be heard,
When used (yung), it is inexhaustible.
(Ⅳ)
- Ch'u Ta-Kao (1904) :

To him who holds to the Great Form all the world will go. It will go and see no danger, but tranquillity, equality and community.
Music and dainties will make the passing stranger stop.
But Tao when uttered in words is so pure and void of flavour When one looks at it, one cannot see it; When one listens to it, one cannot hear it. However, when one uses it, it is inexhaustible. But we use it without end.
(Ⅴ)
- World by world translation :

Traditional // simplified // pinyin // definition // dictionary
執 // 执 // zhí // ① tenir ② persister ③ appliquer ④ exécuter // Chinese-French
執 // 执 // zhí // ① to execute (a plan) ② to grasp // CC-CEDICT
大象 // 大象 // dà xiàng // ① éléphant // Chinese-French
大象 // 大象 // dà xiàng // ① elephant ② CL:隻|只[zhi1] // CC-CEDICT
天下 // 天下 // tiān xià // ① empire céleste // Chinese-French
天下 // 天下 // tiān xià // ① land under heaven ② the whole world ③ the whole of China ④ realm ⑤ rule // CC-CEDICT
往 // 往 // wǎng // ① ancien ② passé ③ aller ④ se rendre ⑤ dans la direction de ⑥ vers // Chinese-French
往 // 往 // wǎng // ① to go (in a direction) ② to ③ towards ④ (of a train) bound for ⑤ past ⑥ previous // CC-CEDICT
徃 // 往 // wǎng // ① old variant of 往[wang3] // CC-CEDICT
往 // 往 // wàng // ① aller ② se rendre // Chinese-French
往 // 往 // wǎng // ① ancien ② passé ③ aller ④ se rendre ⑤ dans la direction de ⑥ vers // Chinese-French
往 // 往 // wǎng // ① to go (in a direction) ② to ③ towards ④ (of a train) bound for ⑤ past ⑥ previous // CC-CEDICT
徃 // 往 // wǎng // ① old variant of 往[wang3] // CC-CEDICT
往 // 往 // wàng // ① aller ② se rendre // Chinese-French
而 // 而 // ér // ① et ② mais ③ tandis que ④ alors que // Chinese-French
而 // 而 // ér // ① and ② as well as ③ and so ④ but (not) ⑤ yet (not) ⑥ (indicates causal relation) ⑦ (indicates change of state) ⑧ (indicates contrast) // CC-CEDICT
不害 // 不害 // bù hài // ① Ahimsa // Chinese-French
安平 // 安平 // ān píng // ① Anping // Chinese-French
安平 // 安平 // ān píng // ① Anping county in Hengshui 衡水[Heng2 shui3], Hebei ② Anping district of Tainan City 臺南市|台南市[Tai2 nan2 shi4], Taiwan // CC-CEDICT
大 // 大 // dà // ① grand ② massif // Chinese-French
大 // 大 // dà // ① big ② huge ③ large ④ major ⑤ great ⑥ wide ⑦ deep ⑧ older (than) ⑨ oldest ⑩ eldest ⑪ greatly ⑫ very much ⑬ (dialect) father ⑭ father's elder or younger brother // CC-CEDICT
大 // 大 // dài // ① docteur ② médecin // Chinese-French
大 // 大 // dài // ① see 大夫[dai4 fu5] // CC-CEDICT
樂 // 乐 // lè // ① joyeux ② gai // Chinese-French
樂 // 乐 // lè // ① surname Le // CC-CEDICT
樂 // 乐 // lè // ① happy ② cheerful ③ to laugh // CC-CEDICT
樂 // 乐 // yuè // ① musique // Chinese-French
樂 // 乐 // yuè // ① surname Yue // CC-CEDICT
樂 // 乐 // yuè // ① music // CC-CEDICT
與 // 与 // yú // ① (particule exprimant le doute) // Chinese-French
與 // 与 // yú // ① variant of 歟|欤[yu2] // CC-CEDICT
與 // 与 // yǔ // ① et ② s'allier ③ offrir ④ donner // Chinese-French
與 // 与 // yǔ // ① and ② to give ③ together with // CC-CEDICT
與 // 与 // yù // ① prendre part à // Chinese-French
與 // 与 // yù // ① to take part in // CC-CEDICT
餌 // 饵 // ěr // ① galette // Chinese-French
餌 // 饵 // ěr // ① pastry ② food ③ to swallow ④ to lure ⑤ bait ⑥ lure // CC-CEDICT
過客 // 过客 // guò kè // ① voyageur de passage ② invité transitoire // Chinese-French
過客 // 过客 // guò kè // ① passing traveler ② transient guest ③ sojourner // CC-CEDICT
止 // 止 // zhǐ // ① seul ② arrêter ③ cesser ④ jusqu'à // Chinese-French
止 // 止 // zhǐ // ① to stop ② to prohibit ③ until ④ only // CC-CEDICT
道 // 道 // dào // ① doctrine, raison ② voie ③ dire ④ circuit, intendance // Chinese-French
道 // 道 // dào // ① road ② path ③ CL:條|条[tiao2],股[gu3] ④ principle ⑤ truth ⑥ morality ⑦ reason ⑧ skill ⑨ method ⑩ Dao (of Daoism) ⑪ to say ⑫ to speak ⑬ to talk ⑭ classifier for long thin things (rivers, cracks etc), barriers (walls, doors etc), questions (in an exam etc), commands, courses in a meal, steps in a process ⑮ (old) administrative division (similar to province in Tang times) // 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
出口 // 出口 // chū kǒu // ① sortie ② exporter ③ exportation ④ quitter le port ⑤ prononcer // Chinese-French
出口 // 出口 // chū kǒu // ① an exit ② CL:個|个[ge4] ③ to speak ④ to export ⑤ (of a ship) to leave port // CC-CEDICT
淡 // 淡 // dàn // ① faible ② pâle ③ léger ④ doux ⑤ clair ⑥ indifférent // Chinese-French
淡 // 淡 // dàn // ① insipid ② diluted ③ weak ④ mild ⑤ light in color ⑥ tasteless ⑦ fresh ⑧ indifferent ⑨ nitrogen // CC-CEDICT
乎 // 乎 // hū // ① à ② dans ③ de ④ vers ⑤ (part. interrog.) // Chinese-French
乎 // 乎 // hū // ① (classical particle similar to 於|于[yu2]) in ② at ③ from ④ because ⑤ than ⑥ (classical final particle similar to 嗎|吗[ma5], 吧[ba5], 呢[ne5], expressing question, doubt or astonishment) // 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
無味 // 无味 // wú wèi // ① insipide ② inodore // Chinese-French
無味 // 无味 // wú wèi // ① tasteless ② odorless // CC-CEDICT
視 // 视 // shì // ① vue ② vision ③ regarder ④ voir ⑤ considérer // Chinese-French
視 // 视 // shì // ① to look at ② to regard ③ to inspect // 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
不足 // 不足 // bù zú // ① ne pas valoir ② insuffisant ③ pas assez // Chinese-French
不足 // 不足 // bù zú // ① insufficient ② lacking ③ deficiency ④ not enough ⑤ inadequate ⑥ not worth ⑦ cannot ⑧ should not // CC-CEDICT
見 // 见 // jiàn // ① voir ② apercevoir ③ rencontrer ④ être au contact de ⑤ être exposé à ⑥ se référer à // Chinese-French
見 // 见 // jiàn // ① to see ② to meet ③ to appear (to be sth) ④ to interview // CC-CEDICT
見 // 见 // xiàn // ① apparaître ② se montrer // Chinese-French
見 // 见 // xiàn // ① to appear ② also written 現|现[xian4] // CC-CEDICT
聽 // 听 // tīng // ① écouter ② suivre ③ obéir à // Chinese-French
聽 // 听 // tīng // "① to listen ② to hear ③ to obey ④ a can (loanword from English ""tin"") ⑤ classifier for canned beverages" // CC-CEDICT
聽 // 听 // tìng // ① permettre ② laisser la liberté de ③ suivre ④ se conformer à // Chinese-French
聽 // 听 // tìng // ① (literary pronunciation, still advocated in Taiwan) to rule ② to sentence ③ to allow // 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
不足 // 不足 // bù zú // ① ne pas valoir ② insuffisant ③ pas assez // Chinese-French
不足 // 不足 // bù zú // ① insufficient ② lacking ③ deficiency ④ not enough ⑤ inadequate ⑥ not worth ⑦ cannot ⑧ should not // CC-CEDICT
聞 // 闻 // wén // ① entendre ② sentir (une odeur) ③ information // Chinese-French
聞 // 闻 // wén // ① surname Wen // CC-CEDICT
聞 // 闻 // wén // ① to hear ② news ③ well-known ④ famous ⑤ reputation ⑥ fame ⑦ to smell ⑧ to sniff at // 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
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
不足 // 不足 // bù zú // ① ne pas valoir ② insuffisant ③ pas assez // Chinese-French
不足 // 不足 // bù zú // ① insufficient ② lacking ③ deficiency ④ not enough ⑤ inadequate ⑥ not worth ⑦ cannot ⑧ should not // CC-CEDICT
既 // 既 // jì // ① puisque ② étant donné que ③ aussi... que ④ et... et... ⑤ déjà // Chinese-French
既 // 既 // jì // ① already ② since ③ both... (and...) // CC-CEDICT
(Ⅵ)
- Yi Wu (1989) :

The owner of the biggest image attracts the whole world.
When all who come have been safely settled,
The world will then be peaceful.
Melodious music and delicious food
Can only attract passers-by.
But the Way is, when put into one's mouth, tasteless,
When looked at, colorless,
When listened to, uninteresting,
And, when used, limitlessly bountiful.
(Ⅶ)
- Lynn (2004) :

Grasp the great image, and all under Heaven will turn to you.
Turning to you means not harm but safety and peace in great measure.
Music and fine food make the passing visitor stay.
When the Dao is spoken of, how bland: it has no flavor at all!
We look for it, but not enough is there to see anything.
We listen for it, but not enough is there to hear anything.
We try to use it, but not enough is there to use up.
(Ⅷ)


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