Thursday, June 22, 2006

Tao

I picked up Sam Hammill's new translation of Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching last week. I was inspired to do it because of Hammil's brilliant Crossing the Yellow River: 300 poems from the Chinese.

The Tao Te Ching has interesting and enigmatic things such as this:

Between Yes and No
there is how much difference?
Good and Evil can be compared.

What others fear
becomes our wilderness of fear.
Oh, it is endless.

People joyfully feast, laughing
as if climbing the springtime tower
to view the terrace.

I alone remain unmoved,
a child not taught to smile,
exhausted, forlorn,
a child without a home.

Everyone has plenty.
I alone am left wanting.
I live in confusion like a fool.

Even ordinary people can be brilliant.
I alone grope in the dark.
The insights of people escape me
as I drift placidly along.

Oh, they know ocean depths
and sea winds aimlessly blowing.
They believe they all have purpose.

The old Taoist alone, the stubborn rustic,
knows Tao itself makes him different.
He's nourished at the Great Mother's breast.

I don't know what that means, but it resonates on a day like today.

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