Daodejing 10


Body and soul
integrated as one.

Concentrate   [1]
for suppleness.
Baby-like? Wash and cleanse
the profound mirror. [2]
Never blemish?
Love the people and
govern a country.
Do doing-without-doing (wěi-wú-wěi)?

The door of heaven
Opens and closes.
Yielding? [3]
Brilliantly perceive
The four directions.
Without ignorance?

[Give birth to it
and breed it, begetting
but without owning;
assisting without
relying upon;
leading without
ruling. This is called
“profound Dé”] [4]

*Translation by LU Wenlong & Keith Wayne Brown, ©2013.

[1] Besides being one of the hardest of the poems to translate, we have here #10 specific mention of  , Qì: this word has been diversely translated into English as energy, force, spirit, breath, etc. However, these translations are inadequate as they reduce the notion to one aspect or profile. Even the Chinese do not have a standard definition of the term, even in qì gōng.

[2] The heart.

[3] Literally, the question is “cannot female?” We interpret this to refer to Yin or the feminine principle which can be characterized as that which yields.

[4] Interpolation carried over from poem 51 and it may not be an original part of this poem. Could very likely be added to help it even make sense to the ancient scribes collecting the poems.


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