I have been digesting multiple translations of the Tao Te Ching for over 49 days. The past two days my writing came out in the form of poetry. But, I got to be honest, it felt really good.
Something about writing by feeling instead of sense, feels so much more expressive and meaningful than trying to make sense of someone else’s meanings.
I do not profess to know much about the Tao Te Ching, or Lao Tzu, however, I feel as though I am beginning to understand the writing on another level and it is because I wrote about it from feeling and not sense.
The Tao Te Ching is written in such a way that every translation boils down to 81 chapters of poetry. Every page is a poetic expression of the way in which Lao Tzu or the many Sage’s responsible for writing the Tao Te Ching, felt and expressed their feelings about life.
Take chapter 26 as 1 of 81 examples.
“Gravity is the root of lightness,
Stillness is the master of passion.
The Sage travels all day
But does not leave the baggage-cart;
When surrounded by magnificent scenery
Remains calm and still.
When a lord of ten thousand chariots
Behaves lightly in this world,
Lightness loses its root,
Passion loses its master.TTC 26 (Addiss & Lombardo)
This poetic language, does not give one the sense to understand what is being said immediately, but instead asks us to feel the weight of the words being used.
I find it so interesting reading four different translations of the Tao Te Ching, because you can see the subtle nature in which the words of Lao Tzu emotionally impacted each translator.
“When surrounded by magnificent scenery, remains still and calm,” is translated another way by Derek Lin as, “Even though there are luxurious sights, they are composed and transcend beyond.”
Which translation most accurately depicts what Lao Tzu was trying to say is anyone’s guess as we are now filtering feeling filled poetry through the lens of countless translations.
When we filter feelings in this way we may not ever know the true meaning as each “poet translator” takes on the task, like a game of telephone, and turns it into an interpretation of the artists true meaning.
But maybe that is what Lao Tzu intended. Lao Tzu said, (via translation of course), “True art seems artless.” Maybe this art, fashioned in the image of an original, is an original itself, and should be looked at thusly.
That we are no longer reading the words of Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching but we are reading a description of a painting. The true art is in the way the painting is described, no longer in the painting itself.
So, the form has been transcended and not copied. Not given a different name but remaining the same because it is still the Tao and could never not be. It is expressed in the perfect way that it was always meant to be expressed; in a senseless poetic motion of the heart.
If you want to know the Tao, you can feel it right now inside of you. If these words made you feel something, then that is the Tao. If you do not feel anything then that too is the Tao.
The Tao Te Ching was written as a cipher to decode feeling the Tao not understanding it or practicing it. Feeling it is the electric impulse of all, allness.