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Yin and Yang in the Tao Te Ching

For comparison, half a dozen translations of Chapter 42 from Laozi's Tao Te Ching — and as for what they may mean ...

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.

(trans.Gia-fu Feng and Jane English)
The Tao gives birth to One.
One gives birth to Two.
Two gives birth to Three.
Three gives birth to all things.

All things have their backs to the female
and stand facing the male.
When male and female combine,
all things achieve harmony.

Ordinary men hate solitude.
But the Master makes use of it,
embracing his aloneness, realizing
he is one with the whole universe.

(trans. Stephen Mitchell)
Tao produces one
One produces two
Two produce three
Three produce myriad things
Myriad things, backed by yin and embracing yang
Achieve harmony by integrating their energy
What the people dislike
Are alone, bereft, and unworthy
But the rulers call themselves with these terms
So with all things
Appear to take loss but benefit
Or receive benefit but lose
What the ancients taught
I will also teach
The violent one cannot have a natural death
I will use this as the principal of teachings

(trans. Derek Lin)
The Tao produced One; One produced Two;
Two produced Three; Three produced All.
All the myriad things bear the yin with darkened pall,
They embrace the yang which lights the coming view,
And between the yin that was, and the yang that is to be,
The immaterial breath makes harmony.
Things that men dislike are to be orphans, lonely men,
Unworthy, incomplete, and yet these very things
Are taken for their titles by princes and by kings;
So it is sometimes that losing gains again,
And sometimes that gaining loses in its turn.
I am teaching what, by others taught, I learn;
The violent and aggressive a good death do not die,
And the father of this teaching—it is I.

(trans. I. W. Heysinger )
Tao produces the one,
One produces two,
Two produces three,
And three produces Ten Thousand Things.

All things suffer the negative and embrace the positive.
The union of these is to achieve harmony.

People detest being alone and unworthy,
yet kings and leaders will describe themselves as such.

Sometimes we win when it appears we've lost,
and sometimes we lose when it appears we've won.

What others learn, I also learn.
Violent people die violently.

By understanding this, I receive my greatest teaching.

(trans. Amy Putkonen)
The Way produces one;
one produces two,
two produces three,
three produces all beings:
all beings bear yin and embrace yang,
with a mellowing energy for harmony.
The things people dislike
are only to be alone, lacking, and unworthy;
yet these are what monarchs call themselves.
Therefore people may gain from loss,
and may lose from gain.
What others teach,
I also teach.
The strong cannot master their death:
I take this to be the father of teachings.

(trans. Thomas Cleary)

^z - 2017-12-24