Chapter 4 What has no origin.
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(Version and commentary of He Shanggong in English)


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4. 1  
Tao is within, and if it is used,

ch'ung 沖 = chung 中within. Tao hides its name and conceals its praise. Its use is within. In one school it is said: Tao becomes useful by being harmonious within. Therefore it is said “within”.

it is always not full.

或 = 常always. Tao is always modest and not conceited.

An abyss, o! like the ancestor of all things.

Tao is deep like an abyss and unknowable, as if it were the ancestor of all things.

Stop these approaches.

挫 = 止 to stop. 銳 = 進 to approach. Man wishes to approach the essence and to acquire merit and glory. He ought to stop this. Law and Tao are themselves not visible..

Loosen these connections.

紛 = bound to hatred. Remember Tao and non-action. Thereby they will be loosened.

Harmonize this splendour.

This means: Though you have the light of unique insight, you ought to know darkness and not to irritate others by your splendour.

Become one with this dust.

You ought to side with the masses, to unite yourself with dust and not to keep aloof.

Still, o! as if enduring.

This means that one ought to remain quite still and peaceful. Then one is able to endure long without perishing.

I do not know whose child it is.

Lao-tse says: I do not know where Tao came from.

It seems to have preceded Ti.

Tao was even there before the God of heaven. This means: Tao thus preceded the birth of the God of heaven. That it exists down to present times, is because it is able to be peaceful, quiet and still without troubling. It wants to induce man to perfect himself and to take Tao for his model.

- Chinese :

《道德經》: 道沖而用之或不盈。淵兮似萬物之宗。挫其銳,解其紛,和其光,同其塵。湛兮似或存。吾不知誰之子,象帝之先

《老子河上公章句·無源》: 道沖而用之或不盈,淵乎似萬物之宗。挫其銳,解其紛,和其光,同其塵。湛兮似若存。吾不知誰之子,象帝之先。

《馬王堆·老子甲道經》: □□□□□□□盈也。瀟呵始萬物之宗。銼其,解其紛,和其光,同□□□□□或存。吾不知□子也,象帝之先

《馬王堆·老子乙道經》: 道沖而用之有弗盈也。淵呵佁萬物之宗。銼其兌,解其芬,和其光,同其塵。湛呵佁或存。吾不知其誰之子也,象帝之先。
(⁎)
- He Shanggong (Chinese) :

道沖而用之沖,中也。 道匿名藏譽,其用在中。或不盈,或,常也。 道常謙虛不盈滿。淵乎似萬物之宗。道淵深不可知,似為萬物知宗祖。挫其銳,銳,進也。 人欲銳精進取功名,當挫止之,法道不自見也。解其紛,紛,結恨也。 當念道無為以解釋。和其光,言雖有獨見之明,當知闇昧,不當以擢亂人也。同其塵。當與眾庶同垢塵,不當自別殊。湛兮似若存。言當湛然安靜,故能長存不亡。吾不知誰之子,老子言:我不知,道所從生。象帝之先。道自在天帝之前,此言道乃先天地之生也。 至今在者,以能安靜湛然,不勞煩欲使人修身法道。
(Ⅱ)
- Wing-Tsit Chan (1963) :

Tao is empty (like a bowl). It may be used but its capacity is never exhausted
It is bottomless, perhaps the ancestor of all things.
It blunts its sharpness. It unties its tangles. It softens its light. It becomes one with the dusty world.
Deep and still, it appears to exist forever.
I do not know whose son it is. It seems to have existed before the Lord.
(Ⅲ)
- Ellen Marie Chen (1989) :

Tao is a whirling emptiness (ch'ung),
Yet (erh) in use (yung) is inexhaustible (ying).
Fathomless (yuan),
It seems to be the ancestor (tsung) of ten thousand beings.
It blunts the sharp,
Unties the entangled,
Harmonizes the bright,
Mixes the dust.
Dark (chan),
It seems perhaps to exist (ts'un).
I do not know whose child it is,
It is an image (hsiang) of what precedes God (Ti).
(Ⅳ)
- Ch'u Ta-Kao (1904) :

Tao, when put in use for its hollowness, is not likely to be filled.
In its profundity it seems to be the origin of all things.
In its depth it seems ever to remain.
I do not know whose offspring it is; But it looks like the predecessor of Nature.
(Ⅴ)
- World by world translation :

Traditional // simplified // pinyin // definition // dictionary
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
沖 // 冲 // chōng // ① (of water) to dash against ② to mix with water ③ to infuse ④ to rinse ⑤ to flush ⑥ to develop (a film) ⑦ to rise in the air ⑧ to clash ⑨ to collide with // CC-CEDICT
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
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
或 // 或 // huò // ① ou ② soit...soit... ③ probablement ④ peut-être // Chinese-French
或 // 或 // huò // ① maybe ② perhaps ③ might ④ possibly ⑤ or // 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
盈 // 盈 // yíng // ① plein ② abondant ③ être plein (rempli, comble) de ④ dépasser ⑤ excéder ⑥ avoir un surplus de ⑦ avoir en excédent // Chinese-French
盈 // 盈 // yíng // ① full ② filled ③ surplus // CC-CEDICT
淵 // 渊 // yuān // ① profond ② gouffre ③ eau profonde // Chinese-French
淵 // 渊 // yuān // ① deep pool ② deep ③ profound // CC-CEDICT
兮 // 兮 // xī // ① (interjection utilisée en poésie indiquant l'émerveillement) ② Oh! // Chinese-French
兮 // 兮 // xī // ① (particle in old Chinese similar to 啊) // CC-CEDICT
似 // 似 // shì // ① comme // Chinese-French
似 // 似 // shì // ① see 似的[shi4 de5] // CC-CEDICT
似 // 似 // sì // ① semblable ② ressembler // Chinese-French
似 // 似 // sì // ① to seem ② to appear ③ to resemble ④ similar ⑤ -like ⑥ pseudo- ⑦ (more) than // CC-CEDICT
佀 // 似 // sì // ① old variant of 似[si4] // CC-CEDICT
萬物 // 万物 // wàn wù // ① tous les êtres vivants // Chinese-French
萬物 // 万物 // wàn wù // ① all living things // 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
宗 // 宗 // zōng // ① ancêtres ② aïeux ③ clan ④ ordre ⑤ objectif ⑥ but // Chinese-French
宗 // 宗 // zōng // ① surname Zong // CC-CEDICT
宗 // 宗 // zōng // ① school ② sect ③ purpose ④ model ⑤ ancestor ⑥ clan ⑦ to take as one's model (in academic or artistic work) ⑧ classifier for batches, items, cases (medical or legal), reservoirs // CC-CEDICT
挫 // 挫 // cuò // ① revers ② échec ③ réprimer ④ abaisser // Chinese-French
挫 // 挫 // cuò // ① obstructed ② to fail ③ to oppress ④ to repress ⑤ to lower the tone ⑥ to bend back ⑦ to dampen // 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
銳 // 锐 // ruì // ① pointu ② acéré // Chinese-French
銳 // 锐 // ruì // ① acute // CC-CEDICT
解 // 解 // jiě // ① séparer ② dénouer ③ défaire ④ soulager ⑤ expliquer ⑥ comprendre // Chinese-French
解 // 解 // jiě // ① to divide ② to break up ③ to split ④ to separate ⑤ to dissolve ⑥ to solve ⑦ to melt ⑧ to remove ⑨ to untie ⑩ to loosen ⑪ to open ⑫ to emancipate ⑬ to explain ⑭ to understand ⑮ to know ⑯ a solution ⑰ a dissection // CC-CEDICT
解 // 解 // jiè // ① envoyer sous escorte // Chinese-French
解 // 解 // jiè // ① to transport under guard // CC-CEDICT
解 // 解 // xiè // ① surname Xie // CC-CEDICT
解 // 解 // xiè // ① acrobatic display (esp. on horseback) (old) ② variant of 懈[xie4] and 邂[xie4] (old) // 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
紛 // 纷 // fēn // ① multiple ② nombreux // Chinese-French
紛 // 纷 // fēn // ① numerous ② confused ③ disorderly // CC-CEDICT
和 // 和 // hé // ① et ② avec ③ harmonie ④ paix ⑤ union // Chinese-French
和 // 和 // hé // ① surname He ② Japanese (food, clothes etc) // CC-CEDICT
和 // 和 // hé // "① and ② together with ③ with ④ sum ⑤ union ⑥ peace ⑦ harmony ⑧ Taiwan pr. [han4] when it means ""and"" or ""with""" // CC-CEDICT
咊 // 和 // hé // ① old variant of 和[he2] // CC-CEDICT
龢 // 和 // hé // ① old variant of 和[he2] ② harmonious // CC-CEDICT
和 // 和 // hè // ① poésie // Chinese-French
和 // 和 // hè // ① to compose a poem in reply (to sb's poem) using the same rhyme sequence ② to join in the singing ③ to chime in with others // CC-CEDICT
和 // 和 // hú // ① to complete a set in mahjong or playing cards // CC-CEDICT
和 // 和 // huó // ① doux // Chinese-French
和 // 和 // huó // ① to combine a powdery substance (flour, plaster etc) with water ② Taiwan pr. [huo4] // CC-CEDICT
和 // 和 // huò // ① pétrir ② mêler // Chinese-French
和 // 和 // huò // ① to mix (ingredients) together ② to blend ③ classifier for rinses of clothes ④ classifier for boilings of medicinal herbs // 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
光 // 光 // guāng // ① rayon (de lumière) ② brillant, gloire ③ nu ④ épuiser ⑤ seul ⑥ (nom de famille) // Chinese-French
光 // 光 // guāng // ① light ② ray ③ CL:道[dao4] ④ bright ⑤ only ⑥ merely ⑦ to use up // CC-CEDICT
同 // 同 // tóng // ① avec ② pareil ③ identique ④ et ⑤ ainsi que ⑥ ensemble ⑦ conjointement // Chinese-French
同 // 同 // tóng // ① like ② same ③ similar ④ together ⑤ alike ⑥ with // CC-CEDICT
仝 // 同 // tóng // ① (used in given names) ② variant of 同[tong2] // CC-CEDICT
衕 // 同 // tòng // ① (hutong) // Chinese-French
衕 // 同 // tòng // ① see 衚衕|胡同[hu2 tong4] // 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
塵 // 尘 // chén // ① poussière // Chinese-French
塵 // 尘 // chén // ① dust ② dirt ③ earth // CC-CEDICT
湛 // 湛 // zhàn // ① abréviation pour la rivière Xiangjiang dans la province du Hunan // Chinese-French
湛 // 湛 // zhàn // ① surname Zhan // CC-CEDICT
湛 // 湛 // zhàn // ① deep ② clear (water) // CC-CEDICT
兮 // 兮 // xī // ① (interjection utilisée en poésie indiquant l'émerveillement) ② Oh! // Chinese-French
兮 // 兮 // xī // ① (particle in old Chinese similar to 啊) // CC-CEDICT
似 // 似 // shì // ① comme // Chinese-French
似 // 似 // shì // ① see 似的[shi4 de5] // CC-CEDICT
似 // 似 // sì // ① semblable ② ressembler // Chinese-French
似 // 似 // sì // ① to seem ② to appear ③ to resemble ④ similar ⑤ -like ⑥ pseudo- ⑦ (more) than // CC-CEDICT
佀 // 似 // sì // ① old variant of 似[si4] // CC-CEDICT
或 // 或 // huò // ① ou ② soit...soit... ③ probablement ④ peut-être // Chinese-French
或 // 或 // huò // ① maybe ② perhaps ③ might ④ possibly ⑤ or // CC-CEDICT
存 // 存 // cún // ① exister ② subsister ③ conserver ④ mettre en réserve ⑤ déposer ⑥ consigner ⑦ nourrir ⑧ avoir // Chinese-French
存 // 存 // cún // ① to exist ② to deposit ③ to store ④ to keep ⑤ to survive // CC-CEDICT
吾 // 吾 // wú // ① je ② mon // Chinese-French
吾 // 吾 // wú // ① surname Wu // CC-CEDICT
吾 // 吾 // wú // ① I ② my (old) // CC-CEDICT
不知 // 不知 // bù zhī // ① ne pas savoir ② ne pas comprendre // Chinese-French
不知 // 不知 // bù zhī // ① not to know ② unaware ③ unknowingly ④ fig. not to admit (defeat, hardships, tiredness etc) // CC-CEDICT
誰 // 谁 // shéi // ① qui ② quiconque // Chinese-French
誰 // 谁 // shéi // ① who ② also pr. [shui2] // CC-CEDICT
誰 // 谁 // shuí // ① qui ② quiconque // Chinese-French
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
子 // 子 // zi // ① (suffixe substantif) // Chinese-French
子 // 子 // zi // ① (noun suffix) // CC-CEDICT
子 // 子 // zǐ // ① jeune ② petit ③ fils ④ personne ⑤ graine ⑥ le 1er des 12 Rameaux terrestres // Chinese-French
子 // 子 // zǐ // ① son ② child ③ seed ④ egg ⑤ small thing ⑥ 1st earthly branch: 11 p.m.-1 a.m., midnight, 11th solar month (7th December to 5th January), year of the Rat ⑦ Viscount, fourth of five orders of nobility 五等爵位[wu3 deng3 jue2 wei4] ⑧ ancient Chinese compass point: 0° (north) // CC-CEDICT
象 // 象 // xiàng // ① éléphant ② forme ③ image ④ aspect // Chinese-French
象 // 象 // xiàng // ① elephant ② CL:隻|只[zhi1] ③ shape ④ form ⑤ appearance ⑥ to imitate // CC-CEDICT
帝 // 帝 // dì // ① empereur ② être suprême ③ impérialisme // Chinese-French
帝 // 帝 // dì // ① emperor // 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
先 // 先 // xiān // ① premier ② d'abord ③ ancêtre ④ prédécesseur ⑤ défunt // Chinese-French
先 // 先 // xiān // ① early ② prior ③ former ④ in advance ⑤ first // CC-CEDICT
(Ⅵ)
- Yi Wu (1989) :

The Way is open for endless use
And will never fill up.
Like an endless valley
It blunts the sharpness,
Dissolves the currents,
Softens the intense light,
Assimilates all substances.
Is it being or non-being?
I don't know which son takes after which father.
(Ⅶ)
- Lynn (2004) :

The vessel of the Dao is empty, so use it but do not try to refill it.
It is such an abyss, oh, that it appears to be the progenitor of the myriad things.
It blunts the sharp, cuts away the tangled, merges with the brilliant, and becomes one with the very dust.
Its depth is so deep, oh, that it seems somehow to exist.
I do not know whose child it could be, for it appears to have been born before the Lord.
(Ⅷ)


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