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  Back to Read the Tao To chapter 5


This chapter uses a lot of water images, especially in the original Chinese.  This is the Chinese character for 'empty' used in the first line.  The left part of the character means 'water' and is, in fact, a picture of flowing water.  The right part means 'middle'.

4 - Blunt the sharp edges

The Tao is so empty,
So hollow.
Yet somehow its usefulness is inexhaustible
It is so very deep
So very profound.
Like the source of everything.


It blunts the sharpest edges
Unties the knots
Softens the glare


It is so very deep
So tranquil
It seems to barely exist at all.
Its origin is unknown
It preceded the Gods themselves.

Original Chinese and notes

There's actually some text missing from the Chinese above.  My English translation is based on the Ma Wang Tui sources as well as the later Wang Bi text that this Chinese text comes from.  I hope to make the Chinese text more complete in the future.

It is interesting to note how many different Chinese characters are used for 'empty' in the Tao.   Characters with the water radical are particularly popular in this chapter.

 

 

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