Chapter 40 How to abstain from use.
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(Version and commentary of He Shanggong in English)


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40. 1  
Subversion is Tao’s movement.

Subversion is the root. The root is that by which Tao moves. Movement generates all things. If they turn their backs to it, then they perish.

Weakness is Tao’s use.

Tenderness and weakness are what Tao always uses. Therefore it is able to last long.

Within the world all things originate from existence.

All things within the world are produced by heaven and earth. Heaven and earth give form and place. Therefore it is said that they take their origin from existence.

Existence originates from non-existence.

Heaven and earth, the spirits and everything flying and creeping originate from Tao. Tao is formless. Therefore they are said to originate from non-existence. This means that the fundamental vanquishes the external, that weakness vanquishes strength, and humility self-contentedness.

- Chinese :

《道德經》: 反者道之動;弱者道之用。天下萬物生於有,有生於無

《老子河上公章句·去用》: 反者道之動,弱者道之用。天下萬物生於有,有生於無

《郭店·老子甲》: 返也者,道動也。弱也者,道之用也。天下之物生於有,生於亡

《馬王堆·老子甲德經》: □□□道之動也;弱也者道之用也。天□□□□□□□□□

《馬王堆·老子乙德經》: 反也者,道之動也。□□者,道之用也。天下之物生於有,有於無。
(⁎)
- He Shanggong (Chinese) :

反者道之動,反,本也。本者,道之所以動,動生萬物,背之則亡也。弱者道之用。柔弱者,道之所常用,故能常久。天下萬物生於有,天下萬物皆從天地生,天地有形位,故言生於有也。有生於無。天地神明,蜎飛蠕動,皆從道生。道無形,故言生於無也。此言本勝於華,弱勝於強,謙虛勝盈滿也。
(Ⅱ)
- Wing-Tsit Chan (1963) :

Reversion is the action of Tao. Weakness is the function of Tao.
All things in the world come from being. And being comes from non-being.
(Ⅲ)
- Ellen Marie Chen (1989) :

Returning (fan) is the movement (tung) of Tao.
Weak (jo) is the functioning (yung) of Tao.
Ten thousand things under heaven are born of being (yu).
Being is born of non-being (wu).
(Ⅳ)
- Ch'u Ta-Kao (1904) :

Returning is the motion of Tao.
Weakness is the appliance of Tao.
All things in the Universe come from existence.
And existence from non-existence.
(Ⅴ)
- World by world translation :

Traditional // simplified // pinyin // definition // dictionary
反 // 反 // fǎn // ① tourner ② renverser ③ révolter ④ lutter contre ⑤ s'opposer ⑥ anti- ⑦ contraire ⑧ inverse // Chinese-French
反 // 反 // fǎn // ① contrary ② in reverse ③ inside out or upside down ④ to reverse ⑤ to return ⑥ to oppose ⑦ opposite ⑧ against ⑨ anti- ⑩ to rebel ⑪ to use analogy ⑫ instead ⑬ abbr. for 反切[fan3 qie4] phonetic system // CC-CEDICT
者 // 者 // zhě // ① (placé après un adjectif ou un verbe est utilisé comme substantif pour désigner une personne ou une chose) // Chinese-French
者 // 者 // zhě // ① (after a verb or adjective) one who (is) ... ② (after a noun) person involved in ... ③ -er ④ -ist ⑤ (used after a number or 後|后[hou4] or 前[qian2] to refer to sth mentioned previously) ⑥ (used after a term, to mark a pause before defining the term) ⑦ (old) (used at the end of a command) ⑧ (old) this // 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
動 // 动 // dòng // ① bouger ② se mouvoir ③ toucher à ④ déplacer ⑤ agir ⑥ se mettre en action // Chinese-French
動 // 动 // dòng // ① (of sth) to move ② to set in movement ③ to displace ④ to touch ⑤ to make use of ⑥ to stir (emotions) ⑦ to alter ⑧ abbr. for 動詞|动词[dong4 ci2], verb // CC-CEDICT
弱者 // 弱者 // ruò zhě // ① un faible // Chinese-French
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
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
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
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
生 // 生 // shēng // ① vie ② existence ③ élève ④ cru ⑤ inconnu ⑥ étranger ⑦ accoucher ⑧ naître ⑨ pousser ⑩ vivre // Chinese-French
生 // 生 // shēng // ① to be born ② to give birth ③ life ④ to grow ⑤ raw ⑥ uncooked ⑦ student // CC-CEDICT
於 // 于 // yú // ① dans ② à ③ de ④ par ⑤ que // Chinese-French
於 // 于 // yú // ① in ② at ③ to ④ from ⑤ by ⑥ than ⑦ out of // CC-CEDICT
於 // 於 // wū // ① en ② dans ③ pour ④ par // Chinese-French
於 // 於 // wū // ① (literary) Oh! ② Ah! // CC-CEDICT
於 // 於 // yū // ① surname Yu ② Taiwan pr. [Yu2] // 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
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
生 // 生 // shēng // ① vie ② existence ③ élève ④ cru ⑤ inconnu ⑥ étranger ⑦ accoucher ⑧ naître ⑨ pousser ⑩ vivre // Chinese-French
生 // 生 // shēng // ① to be born ② to give birth ③ life ④ to grow ⑤ raw ⑥ uncooked ⑦ student // CC-CEDICT
於 // 于 // yú // ① dans ② à ③ de ④ par ⑤ que // Chinese-French
於 // 于 // yú // ① in ② at ③ to ④ from ⑤ by ⑥ than ⑦ out of // CC-CEDICT
於 // 於 // wū // ① en ② dans ③ pour ④ par // Chinese-French
於 // 於 // wū // ① (literary) Oh! ② Ah! // CC-CEDICT
於 // 於 // yū // ① surname Yu ② Taiwan pr. [Yu2] // 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
(Ⅵ)
- Yi Wu (1989) :

Polar opposition helps the movement of the Way.
Weakness is the condition for the use of the Way.
Everything is developed from being,
And being is developed from non-being.
(Ⅶ)
- Lynn (2004) :

Reversion is the action of the Dao.
Softness is the function of the Dao.
The myriad things under Heaven achieve life in existence.
Existence arises from nothingness.
(Ⅷ)


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