Extract from Worldpeace's website
I am not a scholar. I did not translate even one pictograph. What I did was to look for the consensus among the various translations. Therefore, the result is more an interpretation than a translation.
In addition, I tried to relate all the ideas to an underlying theme of peace and harmony. "How does a particular passage relate to the manifestation of peace and harmony?", is the question I asked about every idea. I tried to relate every word to a peace and harmony theme because I believe that this was the original intent of the Tao.
Further, I tried, where appropriate, to replace some of the abstract concepts with something more concrete. I believe this allows more of a consensus of what is being communicated and makes it easier to determine whether or not what is being communicated fosters peace and harmony.
In essence, I have simply done what many others have done over the last 2,500 years. I have tried to relate the Tao in contemporary language with the hope that the level of peace and harmony in the world will increase.
My objective has been peace and harmony and not a literal translation. The following is simply my personal perspective of peace and harmony as seen through the Tao te Ching.
Tao Te Ching
1.1 The infinity that can be conceived is not the everlasting Infinity. The infinity that can be described is not the perpetual Infinity.
1.2 The inconceivable indescribable is the essence of the all encompassing Infinite. Conceiving and describing applies only to the manifestations of Infinity.
1.3 Free from distinctions, experience the oneness of Infinity. Focus on distinctions and see only the manifestations of Infinity.
1.4 Yet distinction and non-distinction are one within Infinity.
1.5 Potential within potential is the essence of Infinity.
2.1 Only when one distinguishes beauty does one create the unattractive.
2.2 Only when one distinguishes good does one create evil.
2.3 Also by distinction, Tangible and intangible create each other, Difficult and easy define each other, Long and short measure each other,
2.4 High and low determine each other, Sound and silence echo each other, Beginning and end follow each other.
2.5 Therefore, the sage goes about living in the oneness of all things, teaching without speaking,
2.6 accepting and dismissing all things with indifference, creating without attachment, working without credit. Acts and deeds are completed and forgotten.
2.7 Because the sage is at one with Infinity, she is immortal.
3.1 Exalting people creates the desire in others to be exalted and therefore creates tension.
3.2 Overvaluing goods creates the desire for ownership and therefore creates the temptation to steal.
3.3 When people do not distinguish things as valuable, they remain focused on the oneness of all things and do not become confused in the material world.
3.4 Therefore, harmonious leaders empty the people's minds but nourish their bodies. They undermine desires and improve endurance.
3.5 They keep the people focused on their oneness with Infinity and free them from attachments to materialthings. They redirect the energies of those who would manipulate others.
3.6 If you remember your oneness with Infinity, and flow with life by refusing to distinguish good and bad, you will flow in the peace and harmony that is the essence of Infinity.
4.1 Infinity is an empty vessel enveloping all manifestations, yet it can never be filled.
4.2 It is the potential of all things tangible and intangible.
4.3 It blunts the sharp and hones the blunt, unravels knots and binds all things, dulls the glare and shines the mundane, manifests the dust and clears the air.
4.4 It is the essence of all things. No one can comprehend its origin.
4.5 It is older than the concept of God.
5.1 Heaven and earth are indifferent. All creatures are considered straw dogs; not distinguished, not judged.
5.2 The sage is indifferent. All people are one; not distinguished, not judged.
5.3 Infinity is like a bellows, empty yet encompassing the potential of all things.
5.4 Words are straw in the wind. The more one talks, the less one says. Keep focused on Infinity. Remain centered in the oneness of all things. In time all potentials manifest.
6.1 The manifestations of Infinity never cease manifesting. Infinity is the primal creator, the oneness of male and female.
6.2 Infinity is the gate though which heaven and earth manifested.
6.3 It is invisible to the senses, yet totally permeates all things. It is inexhaustible and eternally available for any purpose.
7.1 Heaven and earth will pass away but Infinity endures forever.
7.2 It had no beginning and so It can never end. It is the inexhaustible essence of all things.
7.3 Because the sage remains behind in her oneness with all things, she anticipates all manifestations.
7.4 Being at one with Infinity, she is indifferent.
7.5 Because she does not distinguish herself from other beings, she is completely fulfille
8.1 Water is like Infinity, it gives itself to all things without distinction or judgment and settles into the lowest places without deliberation.
8.2 In dwelling, live in harmony with the land. In meditation, remember your oneness with the Infinite. In dealing with others, do not judge. In communicating, relate the truth.
8.2 In governing, be fair. In daily life, be in harmony with all things and at peace with all people. In action, be mindful that there is a time and a season for all things.
8.3 Avoid judging and its legacy contention and flow in the peace and harmony of the oneness of humanity.
9.1 Fill anything to the brim and the contents will spill out.
9.2 Hone a sharpened blade and it will become blunt.
9.3 Accumulate great wealth, but be aware that you cannot keep it.
9.5 When a task is complete, move on. Change is the harmony of Infinity.
10.1 Manifesting body, mind and spirit, can you stay centered in the oneness of Infinity?
10.2 Fully manifesting and remaining flexible, can you experience all manifestations as a newborn baby?
10.3 Can you maintain the Infinite vision of oneness by ignoring distinctions.
10.4 Remaining centered in oneness and leading others, can you avoid manifesting arrogance?
10.5 Entering and exiting the gates of manifestations, can you harmonize with Infinity?
10.6 Realizing your oneness with Infinity, can you flow in harmony with It by indifferently allowing things to come and go?
10.7 Can you create and sustain things, and yet remain unattached to them? Can you work in harmony with all things, without desiring acknowledgment for your deeds? Exemplifying oneness, flowing in peace and harmony, not distinguishing, not judging, is the nature of Infinity.
11.1 Thirty spokes converge on the wheel's hub. But the center hole which receives the axle makes it useful.
11.2 Clay is shaped into a pot. But the inner space which receives whatever one puts into it makes it useful.
11.3 Wood is cut and joined to build a house. But the windows and doors which allow things to enter and leave make it useful.
11.4 The potential utility resides in the tangible. But true usefulness is a manifestation of the intangible.
12.1 The oneness of the five colors blind the eyes. The oneness of the five tones deafens the ears. The oneness of the five flavors dull the tongue.
12.2 Racing ahead of change and pursuing the illusion of reality promotes confusion.
12.3 Therefore, the sage is in harmony with what she is and does not distinguish what she sees. She chooses oneness and distinguishes nothing.
13.1 Accept disgrace indifferently. Acknowledge misfortune as one of the human conditions.
13.2 What does it mean to "accept disgrace indifferently"? Honor and disgrace are one in the Infinite. Only by making distinctions does one manifest disgrace. Refusing to make distinctions merges honor and disgrace into the oneness of circumstances which creates harmony.
13.3 What is meant by "acknowledging misfortune as one of the human conditions"? The body is a manifestation of Infinity and the body is subject to being affected by the other manifestations of Infinity. Misfortune is one of those other manifestations. However, as with disgrace, refusing to distinguish misfortune and fortune creates indifference which keeps one focused on the oneness of Infinity and creates peace in the self.
13.4 Stay centered in your oneness with Infinity and you can be entrusted with leadership. See the world as yourself and you will care for all things.
14.1 Look and see the manifestations of the Infinite but not its essence. Listen and hear the manifestations of the Infinite but not its essence. Reach out and touch the manifestations of the Infinite but not its essence.
14.2 These three are one in their inability to relate the essence of Infinity.
14.3 Above it is not light. Below it is not dark. It is neither light nor dark. Infinity is the potential manifestation of all things and the essence into which all manifestations disintegrate. Yet it is inconceivable and indescribable; intangible but the essence of all manifestations.
14.4 You cannot confront what has no head and you cannot follow what has no tail.
14.5 Remember your oneness, flow in the peace and harmony of Infinity, live in the now, changing and flowing with change. There was no beginning. This is the mystery of Infinity.
15.1 Those who live in oneness manifest the Infinite in simple ways. Their awareness is the awareness of Infinity.
15.2 Their knowing cannot be described but only experienced. All that can be described is their acts and their appearance and the perception of them. They are; alert when crossing unfamiliar space, cautious in hostile lands, humble as a guest,
15.3 indifferently transforming as melting ice, possessing the infinite potential of an unremarkable piece of uncarved wood, mysterious as an unexplored valley, perplexing as muddy water
15.4 Can you see the calm in turbulent waters; the clarity in murky water? Can you allow the tides of Infinite change to move you from stillness to motion and action to inaction; experiencing but not contemplating the change?
15.5 Those who live in oneness do not seek fullness because at every moment they are aware of their infinite fullness and the infinite pregnancy of all things. They are aware of their infinite potential within which the limitations of fullness resides.
16.1 Contemplate Infinity and become peaceful as the mind becomes lost.
16.2 The self perceives the never ending manifestations of the potential of Infinity as well as the disintegration of all those manifestations. Within Infinity all things manifest and disintegrate. Disintegration is a returning to the Infinite potential.
16.3 Disintegration is the destiny of all manifestations. Manifesting is the nature of Infinity. Change is the Infinite constant.
16.4 Acknowledging change is the key to understanding the harmony of never ending change. Acknowledging change within the Infinite potential of which every creature is a manifestation, unique, yet bound to all things in disintegration, gives one a perspective regarding life. Possessing perspective, one becomes impartial, openhearted, tolerant, compassionate and indifferent to judging others. These are foundations of harmony.
16.5 The manifestation of the body disintegrates but Infinity can never disintegrate into itself. There is nothing to fear.
17.1 The best leaders are in harmony with their followers. The next best are those who are respected. Then comes those who are feared. The worst are those who are despised.
17.2 If one perceives others as untrustworthy, then that will be the experience that one acknowledges. The selective acknowledgment of untrustworthiness verifies one's perception of the untrustworthiness of others.
17.3 When the leaders are in harmony with their followers, few laws are necessary and all tasks are accomplished with ease. The followers, not perceiving the administration of leadership, marvel at the manifestationsof harmony and experience a sense of self worth.
18.1 When the oneness of Infinity is forgotten, judgment appears and people are distinguished as good and righteous.
18.2 When the illusion of knowledge and understanding appear, the physical reality has been confused with Infinity.
18.3 When there is no peace and harmony within the family, a facade of devotion and obedience is perceived.
18.4 When a nation manifests great change, patriots step forward to attempt to resurrect the past.
19.1 Quit distinguishing the wise and their wisdom, the saints and their holiness, and the people will be a hundred times better off.
19.2 Quit distinguishing morality, righteousness and benevolence and humanity will stay centered in its oneness.
19.3 Abandon the pursuit of commercial profit and the number of thieves and robbers will be greatly reduced.
19.4 These are just three impediments to peace and harmony and abandoning them is not enough.
19.5 Peace and harmony reside in the simplicity of an uncarved piece of wood. Quit distinguishing the self and reside in oneness. Curb your desires and aspirations and experience the peace and harmony of simplicity.
20.1 Give up the pursuit of knowledge and live in peace and harmony. Without knowledge there is no difference between good and evil.
20.2 Is it necessary to learn to fear what others perceive should be feared? Nonsense!
20.3 Other people are excited, joyous and festive as if enjoying a holiday. I alone am indifferent, without emotion or expression; like a baby before it has learned to smile.
20.4 Others have things they feel they need. I alone own nothing. I am like a fool unfettered by knowledge.
20.5 Other people are intelligent. I alone am ignorant. Others are shrewd and cunning. I alone am untouched and moronic. I aimlessly drift on the great tides of the endless seas at the mercy of the indifferent winds.
20.6 Others have direction, goals and purposes. I alone flow within the harmony of Infinity. I am different from others. I reside in the peace and harmony of the Infinite oneness of all things.
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