Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dao 道

There are many different translations of the Dao De Jing 道德經. In one of these translations, the first chapter reads:

The truth that may be told is not the everlasting Truth.
The name given to a thing is not the everlasting Name.

道可道  非常道
名可名  非常名

Dao was translated as "truth".

I am thinking, "Dao can be translated but the translation is not the original meaning of Dao."

As for the second line, there is a close relative in English:
A rose by another name smells as sweet.



Simon said...

Or this two line can be read as: "One can speak about Dao, but it will be not the original Dao."

It is like when a religious speaker interprets something holy or heavenly. The interpretation is earthly and subjective, not pure and heavenly. Thoughts and words warps the original heavenly nature of things in my opinion.

Joseph Yu said...

When Dao is talked about, it is not the Dao. Dao can be understood but not from any explanation.

A name can be used to label something but the name is not that something.

James Legge's translation:

"The Dao that can be trodden is not the enduring and unchanging Dao. The name that can be named is not the enduring and unchanging name."

The misunderstanding comes from the preconceived notion of anything valuable being enduring and unchanging.


Laguna Vacations said...

How can you capture a moment of sweetness or knowledge by the limits of the written word let alone the human mind. Time and experience is ever changing and not subject to conjecture.