Translation: Tao Te King – Chapter 14. Praising emptiness

Chapter 14. Praising emptiness

Smoothness is what cannot be seen when looking at it.

Silence is what cannot be heard when listening to it.

Rarity is what cannot be touched when trying to do so.

As these are inseparable from each other, they can be considered one – Tao¹.

It is not lit in height nor dark at low down.

The Yin and Yang with white representing Yang and black representing Yin.  The symbol is a visual depiction of the intertwined duality of all things in nature, a common theme in Taoism.
The Yin and Yang with white representing Yang and black representing Yin. The symbol is a visual depiction of the intertwined duality of all things in nature, a common theme in Taoism. PD-life-plus-100 SVG Artist: Klem

Boundless in its action, yet nameless. Going out it goes into itself.

This is the manifestation of the non-manifested’s form.

This is the unmeasured mystery. Going in front of it you cannot see its face; following it you cannot notice its back².

Yet directing your life by the old knowledge of Tao is finding the way.


  1. Mr. Ervast: “The text apparently means the absolute divinity (God) that is one with the Holy Trinity Logos (The Word), that cannot be seen, heard or touched, even as it is fullness of the infinite (flatness), eternal sound of silence and rarity i.e. separately manifest worlds, eternity and omnipresence in time and place .”
  2. Mr. Ervast: “The secret of divinity cannot be solved by anyone. He who pretends he is trying, he places himself in front of God supposedly to see his (face) goodness, but in reality he does not see it, but just goes backwards farther away from God. Or  if he doesn’t set³ himself bigger than God, but tries in a way by prying, looking and seeking to gain the secrets he will not even notice the back, he does not distinguish evil from good, darkness from light. And like it states in the last verse the way to God is discoverable.”
  3. Translator’s notice: There could potentially be a typo here. Finnish text does say “asetu” (to place [self]) whereas “aseta” (to place [God]) would make sense. Gotta check this in Chongwen some day.

Own translation from 1925 Finnish translation by Pekka Ervast (ISBN 951-8995-01-X) with kind permission of Ruusu-Ristin Kirjallisuusseura ry.

 

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