June 8th, 2010

Chapter 25

There was a thing, a "gathering" chaos,
Which existed prior to heaven and earth.
Silent!  Empty!
Existing by itself, unchanging;
Pervading everywhere, inexhaustible.
It might be called the mother of the world.
Its name is unknown,
I simply call it Tao.
If I were to exert myself to define it,
I might call it great.
Great means extending to the limitless.
Extending to the limitless means reaching the extreme distance.
Reaching the extreme distance means returning to "nearness."
Thus Tao is great.
Heaven is great, earth is great, and man is great, too.
In the universe we have four greatnesses and man is but one.
Man is in accordance with earth.
Earth is in accordance with heaven.
Heaven is in accordance with Tao.
Tao is in accordance with that which is.

                  Translated by Chang Chung-yuan, 1975.


Something mysteriously formed,
Born before heaven and Earth.
In the silence and the void,
Standing alone and unchanging,
Ever present and in motion.
Perhaps it is the mother of ten thousand things.
I do not know its name
Call it Tao.
For lack of a better word, I call it great.

Being great, it flows
I flows far away.
Having gone far, it returns.

Therefore, "Tao is great;
Heaven is great;
Earth is great;
The king is also great."
These are the four great powers of the universe,
And the king is one of them.

Man follows Earth.
Earth follows heaven.
Heaven follows the Tao.
Tao follows what is natural.
Something perfect
has existed forever,
even longer than the universe.
It's a vast, unchanging void.
There's nothing else like it.
It goes on forever and never stops,
and everything else came from it.

I don't know what else to call it
so I'll call it Tao.
What's it like?
I can tell you this much: it's great.

So great that it endures.
Something that endures
goes a long way.
And something that goes a long way
always comes back to the beginning.

Tao's great.
Heaven's great.
Earth's great.
And someone in touch with Tao
is great, too.
Those are the four greatest things
in the universe.

Someone who's in touch with Tao
is in touch with the earth.
The earth is in touch with heaven.
Heaven's in touch with Tao.
Tao's in touch with the way things are.

The first version is from the Fortune files. The second version is the Beatrice Tao.