Chapter 81 How to display reality.
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(Version and commentary of He Shanggong in English)


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81. 1  
Sincere words are not beautiful.

Sincere words are true words. What is not beautiful is simple and real.

Beautiful words are not sincere.

Beautiful words are superficial talks of rich beauty. Insincerity is outward, hypocritical and extremely empty.

The knowing one is no scholar.

The knowing one is the knowing Taoist. The unlearned one comprehends unity as the origin.

The scholar is ignorant.

The scholar sees and hears much, but as he is ignorant, he loses what is important and true.

The good man does not discuss.

The good man practises asceticism by means of Tao. As he does not cultivate discussions, he has no outward elegance.

Who discusses is not good.

Who discusses speaks beautiful words. As he is not good, he creates sorrow by means of his tongue. If a mountain contains jade, that mountain will be dug out. If a lake contains pearls, its depths will be sullied. If a discussing mouth speaks much, it will lose its body.

A saint does not hoard.

A saint hoards Te but he does not hoard treasures. If he has Te, he instructs the stupid ones. If he possesses treasures, he gives them to the poor.

Having worked for others he has himself the more.

After having divided his Te among others, he himself has got the more of it.

Having given to others he himself possesses the more.

After having divided his treasures among others, his own treasures have augmented the more, as the splendour of the sun and moon never becomes exhausted.

The way of heaven is to bless and not to hurt.

Heaven begets all beings, loves them and educated them, makes them grow and never hurts them.

The way of the saint is to act and not to contend.

The saint takes heaven for his model. He displays nothing but perfects his affairs. Then he does not contend with his subjects. His merit becomes famous, and therefore he is able to complete his saintly merit.

 

- Chinese :

《道德經》: 信言不美,美言不信。善者不辯,辯者不善。知者不博,博者不知。聖人不積,既以為人己愈有,既以與人己愈多。天之道,利而不害;聖人之道,為而不爭。

《老子河上公章句·顯質》: 信言不美,美言不信。善者不辯,辯者不善。知者不博,博者不知。聖人不積,既以為人己愈有,既以與人己愈多。天之道,利而不害;聖人之道,為而不爭。

《馬王堆·老子乙德經》: 信言不美,美言不信。知者不博,博者不知。善者不多,多者不善。聖人無積,既以為人,己俞有;既以予人矣,己俞多。故天之道,利而不害;人之道,為而弗爭。
(⁎)
- He Shanggong (Chinese) :

信言不美,信者,如其實也。不美者,朴且質也。美言不信。美言者,滋美之華辭。不信者,飾偽多空虛也。善者不辯,善者,以道修身也。不綵文也。辯者不善。辯者,謂巧言也。不善者,舌致患也。山有玉,掘其山;水有珠,濁其淵;辯口多言,亡其身。知者不博,知者,謂知道之士。不博者,守一元也。博者不知。博者,多見聞也。不知者,失要真也。聖人不積,聖人積德不積財,有德以教愚,有財以與貧也。既以為人己愈有,既以為人施設德化,己愈有德。既以與人己愈多。既以財賄布施與人,而財益多,如日月之光,無有盡時。天之道,利而不害;天生萬物,愛育之,令長大,無所傷害也。聖人之道,為而不爭。聖人法天所施為,化成事就,不與下爭功名,故能全其聖功也。
(Ⅱ)
- Wing-Tsit Chan (1963) :

True words are not beautiful; Beautiful words are not true.
A good man does not argue; He who argues is not a good man.
A wise man has no extensive knowledge; He who has extensive knowledge is not a wise man.
The sage does not accumulate for himself. The more he uses for others, the more he possesses of his own.
The Way of Heaven is to benefit others and not to injure. The Way of the sage is to act but not to compete.
(Ⅲ)
- Ellen Marie Chen (1989) :

Truthful (hsin) words (yen) are not beautiful,
Beautiful (mei) words are not truthful.
The good (shan) does not distinguish,
One who distinguishes (pien) is not good.
One who knows (chih) does not accumulate knowledge,
One who accumulates knowledge (po) does not know.
The sage does not hoard.
Having worked (wei) for his fellow beings,
The more he possesses.
Having donated himself to his fellow beings,
The more abundant he becomes.
The way of heaven,
It benefits (li), but does not harm.
The way of the sage,
He works (wei), but does not contend.
(Ⅳ)
- Ch'u Ta-Kao (1904) :

He who knows does not speak;
He who speaks does not know.
He who is truthful is not showy;
He who is showy is not truthful.
He who is virtuous does not dispute.
He who disputes is not virtuous.
He who is learned is not wise.
He who is wise is not learned.
Therefore the Sage does not display his own merits.
(Ⅴ)
- World by world translation :

Traditional // simplified // pinyin // definition // dictionary
信 // 信 // xìn // ① avoir confiance ② croire ③ lettre // Chinese-French
信 // 信 // xìn // ① letter ② mail ③ CL:封[feng1] ④ to trust ⑤ to believe ⑥ to profess faith in ⑦ truthful ⑧ confidence ⑨ trust ⑩ at will ⑪ at random // CC-CEDICT
言 // 言 // yán // ① dire ② mot ③ parole ④ opinion ⑤ propos // Chinese-French
言 // 言 // yán // ① words ② speech ③ to say ④ to talk // 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
美 // 美 // měi // ① beau, élégant ② excellent ③ louer ④ abréviation d'Amérique // Chinese-French
美 // 美 // měi // ① the Americas ② abbr. for 美洲[Mei3 zhou1] ③ USA ④ abbr. for 美國|美国[Mei3 guo2] // CC-CEDICT
美 // 美 // měi // ① beautiful ② very satisfactory ③ good ④ to beautify ⑤ to be pleased with oneself // CC-CEDICT
美 // 美 // měi // ① beau, élégant ② excellent ③ louer ④ abréviation d'Amérique // Chinese-French
美 // 美 // měi // ① the Americas ② abbr. for 美洲[Mei3 zhou1] ③ USA ④ abbr. for 美國|美国[Mei3 guo2] // CC-CEDICT
美 // 美 // měi // ① beautiful ② very satisfactory ③ good ④ to beautify ⑤ to be pleased with oneself // CC-CEDICT
言 // 言 // yán // ① dire ② mot ③ parole ④ opinion ⑤ propos // Chinese-French
言 // 言 // yán // ① words ② speech ③ to say ④ to talk // 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
信 // 信 // xìn // ① avoir confiance ② croire ③ lettre // Chinese-French
信 // 信 // xìn // ① letter ② mail ③ CL:封[feng1] ④ to trust ⑤ to believe ⑥ to profess faith in ⑦ truthful ⑧ confidence ⑨ trust ⑩ at will ⑪ at random // CC-CEDICT
善者不辯,辯者不善 // 善者不辩,辩者不善 // shàn zhě bù biàn , biàn zhě bù shàn // ① Good words are not persuasive, persuasive words are not good (idiom, from Laozi 老子 81). Do not be taken in by appearances. // CC-CEDICT
知 // 知 // zhī // ① savoir ② connaître ③ connaissances // Chinese-French
知 // 知 // zhī // ① to know ② to be aware // 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
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
博 // 博 // bó // ① riche ② vaste ③ immense ④ savant ⑤ érudit ⑥ gagner ⑦ troquer // Chinese-French
博 // 博 // bó // ① extensive ② ample ③ rich ④ obtain ⑤ aim ⑥ to win ⑦ to get ⑧ plentiful ⑨ to gamble // CC-CEDICT
愽 // 博 // bó // ① old variant of 博[bo2] // CC-CEDICT
博 // 博 // bó // ① riche ② vaste ③ immense ④ savant ⑤ érudit ⑥ gagner ⑦ troquer // Chinese-French
博 // 博 // bó // ① extensive ② ample ③ rich ④ obtain ⑤ aim ⑥ to win ⑦ to get ⑧ plentiful ⑨ to gamble // CC-CEDICT
愽 // 博 // bó // ① old variant of 博[bo2] // 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
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
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
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
積 // 积 // jī // ① accumuler ② amasser // Chinese-French
積 // 积 // jī // ① to amass ② to accumulate ③ to store ④ measured quantity (such as area of volume) ⑤ product (the result of multiplication) ⑥ to integrate (math.) ⑦ to solve (or integrate) an ordinary differential equation (math.) ⑧ old ⑨ long-standing // 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
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
人 // 人 // rén // ① une personne ② être humain ③ homo sapiens // Chinese-French
人 // 人 // rén // ① man ② person ③ people ④ CL:個|个[ge4],位[wei4] // CC-CEDICT
己 // 己 // jǐ // ① soi-même ② personnel ③ privé ④ égoïste ⑤ 49e radical // Chinese-French
己 // 己 // jǐ // "① self ② oneself ③ sixth of the ten Heavenly Stems 十天干[shi2 tian1 gan1] ④ sixth in order ⑤ letter ""F"" or roman ""VI"" in list ""A, B, C"", or ""I, II, III"" etc ⑥ hexa" // CC-CEDICT
愈 // 愈 // yù // ① the more...(the more...) ② to recover ③ to heal ④ better // CC-CEDICT
癒 // 愈 // yù // ① guérir ② recouvrer la santé ③ plus...plus... // Chinese-French
癒 // 愈 // yù // ① variant of 愈[yu4] ② to heal // 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
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
以 // 以 // yǐ // ① prendre ② utiliser ③ selon ④ à cause de ⑤ pour // Chinese-French
以 // 以 // yǐ // ① abbr. for Israel 以色列[Yi3 se4 lie4] // CC-CEDICT
以 // 以 // yǐ // ① to use ② by means of ③ according to ④ in order to ⑤ because of ⑥ at (a certain date or place) // CC-CEDICT
㕥 // 以 // yǐ // ① old variant of 以[yi3] // CC-CEDICT
㠯 // 以 // yǐ // ① old variant of 以[yi3] // 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
人 // 人 // rén // ① une personne ② être humain ③ homo sapiens // Chinese-French
人 // 人 // rén // ① man ② person ③ people ④ CL:個|个[ge4],位[wei4] // CC-CEDICT
己 // 己 // jǐ // ① soi-même ② personnel ③ privé ④ égoïste ⑤ 49e radical // Chinese-French
己 // 己 // jǐ // "① self ② oneself ③ sixth of the ten Heavenly Stems 十天干[shi2 tian1 gan1] ④ sixth in order ⑤ letter ""F"" or roman ""VI"" in list ""A, B, C"", or ""I, II, III"" etc ⑥ hexa" // CC-CEDICT
愈 // 愈 // yù // ① the more...(the more...) ② to recover ③ to heal ④ better // CC-CEDICT
癒 // 愈 // yù // ① guérir ② recouvrer la santé ③ plus...plus... // Chinese-French
癒 // 愈 // yù // ① variant of 愈[yu4] ② to heal // CC-CEDICT
多 // 多 // duō // ① beaucoup ② nombreux ③ de plus ④ de trop ⑤ plus de // Chinese-French
多 // 多 // duō // "① many ② much ③ often ④ a lot of ⑤ numerous ⑥ more ⑦ in excess ⑧ how (to what extent) ⑨ multi- ⑩ Taiwan pr. [duo2] when it means ""how""" // CC-CEDICT
天 // 天 // tiān // ① ciel ② jour ③ journée ④ temps ⑤ saison ⑥ nature ⑦ univers // Chinese-French
天 // 天 // tiān // ① day ② sky ③ heaven // 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
不爭 // 不争 // bù zhēng // ① widely known ② incontestable ③ undeniable ④ to not strive for ⑤ to not contend for // CC-CEDICT
(Ⅵ)
- Yi Wu (1989) :

Truthful words are not beautiful.
Beautiful words are not truthful.
Good words are not eloquent.
Eloquent words are not good.
One who knows will not show off.
One who shows off does not know.
The wise person accumulates nothing.
The more one does for others, the more one achieves.
The more one gives to others, the more one receives.
The way of Heaven benefits by harming nothing.
The way of the wise person achieves
And receives by accumulating nothing.
(Ⅶ)
- Lynn (2004) :

Sincere words are not beautiful.
Beautiful words are not sincere.
Those who are good do not engage in disputation;
those who engage in disputation are not good.
Those who know are not broadly learned;
those who are broadly learned do not know.
The sage is not acquisitive.
The more he does for others, the more he himself has.
The more he gives to others, the more he himself possesses.
The Dao of Heaven is to provide benefit without doing harm.
The Dao of the sage is to act without causing contention.
(Ⅷ)


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