June 25th, 2010

Chapter 42

From the Tao, one is created,
From one, two,
From two, three,
From three, ten thousand things.
All of them achieve harmony through the unification of affirmation and negation
Which is embraced by everything.
No one likes to be isolated (ku), without merit (kua),  or worthless (pu ku),
Yet rulers refer to themselves with these names.
Thus, some things add to their value by reducing their value
Some things reduce their value by adding to their value
Other ancients have taught this,
I teach it too,
The man of violence will end his life in violence."
This is a basic motto.

                      Translated by Chang Chung-yuan, 1975.
goban

42

The Tao begot one.
One begot two.
Two begot three.
And three begot the ten thousand things.

The ten thousand things carry yin and embrace yang.
They achieve harmony by combining these forces.

Men hate to be "orphaned," "widowed," or "worthless,"
But this is how kings and lords describe themselves.

For one gains by losing
And loses by gaining.

What others teach, I also teach; that is:
"A violent man will die a violent death!"
This will be the essence of my teaching.
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Chapter 42 starts out
with some cosmic mumbo-jumbo
about Tao making one,
one making two,
two making three,
and three making everything else.

I don't know what it means,
and, frankly,
I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Let's get to the practical part:
Men hate to be called
powerless, insignificant, or unworthy,
but that's how
Masters describe themselves.

Because when we lose, we've won.
And when we succeed, we've failed.

Other people will tell you
what I'm telling you now:
"Live by the sword, die by the sword."
That's pretty much what Chapter 42
boils down to.
(See Chapter 46 for more details.)
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The first version is from the Fortune files. The second version is the Beatrice Tao.