THE FEMININE TAO 
CHAPTER FOUR
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Tao Te Ching (Daodejing) (Intro) : 32 Nature Mystic Chapters :
gender-inclusive translations, calligraphy, commentary, seal scripts :

01, 04, 06, 07, 08    09, 10, 11, 15, 21, 22, 23    26, 28, 29, 32, 35,
40, 43, 45, 47    48, 49, 51, 52, 56, 63, 67    70, 73, 77, 79.
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Hymning the Tao Te Ching
(Literal 81 Chapter Chinese-English Study Version)
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Hyperlinked Bibliography: Women Authors on the Tao Te Ching
The Woman Crookback (Chuang-Tzu)
Picturing Tao (above): Baskets of Sun
Women's Prehistoric Jomon Pottery

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Chinese Character, Emperor, Ti
GOD (Ti / Di 帝)
Divine Ancestor / EMPEROR
or some say, EMPRESS
"I don't know who gave birth to it.
It is older than Ti."

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 4
translated by Stephen Mitchell (1988)

The Tao is like a well:
used but never used up.

It is like the eternal void:
filled with infinite possibilities.

It is hidden but always present.
I don't know who gave birth to it.
It is older than God.

---


Tao Te Ching: Chapter 4
translated by Chao-Hsiu Chen (2004)

The Tao is based on harmony between
      emptiness and abundance.

It is the deep source of the myriad creatures.

It softens their sharpness.

It releases their confusion.

It lessens their lustre.

It merges with their dust.

The Tao is so clear and so transparent that
      it is nearly invisible, nearly formless; [*]
      no one can know its origin, for it came
      before all creation.

---
[*] HO-SHANG-KUNG [an ancient commentator] says:
"Law and Tao are themselves not visible."
---
[*] ELLEN M. CHEN comments:
"Tao is not the Kantian ideal of reason nor an empty
concept. It is the fruit of an act of imagination (象) in
an effort to capture this prior as the dynamic creativity
whose effects are all the beings that ever come to be.
God (Ti, 帝) the greatest and most powerful being, is
not the source of all. God is rooted in Tao whose
existence is in question."

---

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 4
translated by R. T. Ames & D. L. Hall (2003)

Way-making being empty,
You make use of it
But do not fill it up.

So abysmally deep —
It seems the predecessor of everything that is happening.

It blunts the sharp edges
And untangles the knots;
It softens the glare
And brings things together on the same track.

So cavernously deep —
It only seems to persist.

I do not know whose progeny it is;
It prefigures the ancestral gods.

---

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 4
translated by Walter Gorn Old (1904)

Tao is without limitation; its depth is the source of whatsoever is.

It makes sharp things round, it brings order out of chaos,
it obscures the brilliant, it is wholly without attachment.

I do not know who gave it birth; it is more ancient than God.

---

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 4
translated by Kari Hohne (2009)

Tao is like an empty vessel,
yet use will not drain it.
Never needing to be filled,
it is the deep and unfathomable source
of the ten thousand things.

Blunt the sharpness.
Untangle the knots.
Soften the glare.
Settle like dust.
Let your wheels move only along old ruts.

Darkly visible,
it only seems as if it were there.
I know not its name.
It existed before the ten thousand things.
I call it Tao.

---

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 4
translated by Thomas Z. Zhang
and Jackie X. Zhang (2004)

Tao is abstract, their applicability is
      inexhaustible.
Abyss appears to be the origin of everything.
Deepness appears to be where the
      intangible exists.

Smoothening sharp edges;
Resolving conflicts;
Harmonizing glares;
Blending into the earth.

I do not know from where the theory comes,
it appears to come from our late ancestors.

---

Chinese Character 盈, Ying
FULL (盈)
(Add to a Vessel, Become Full = Ying)

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 4
translation by D. C. Lau & Sarah Allan (1982)
(Ma Wang Tui Manuscripts)

The way is empty, yet when used there is something
that does not make it full.
Deep, it is like the ancestor of the myriad creatures.
Blunt the sharpness;
Untangle the knots;
Soften the glare;
Follow along old wheel tracks.
Darkly visible, it only seems as if it were there.
I know not whose son it is.
It images the forefather of God.

---

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 4
translated by R. B. Blakney (1955)

The Way is a void,
Used but never filled:
An abyss it is,
Like an ancestor
From which all things come. [*]

It blunts sharpness,
Resolves tangles;
It tempers light,
Subdues turmoil.

A deep pool it is,
Never to run dry!
Whose offspring it may be
I do not know:
It is like a preface to God.

---
[*] URSULA K. LE GUIN says:
"In passages such as this one, I think it is the
profound modesty of the language that offers what
so many people for so many centuries have found
in the book: a pure apprehension of the mystery
of which we are a part."

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 4
translated by Ellen M. Chen (1989)

Tao is a whirling emptiness,
Yet in use is inexhastible.
Fathomless,
It seems to be the ancestor of
      ten thousand beings.

It blunts the sharp,
Unties the entangled,
Harmonizes the bright,
Mixes the dust.

Seal Script
(1) blunts (2) it/the (3) sharp
(4) loosens (5) it/the (6) tangled
(7) harmonizes (8) it/the (9) bright
(10) unites with (11) it/the (12) dust

Dark
It seems perhaps to exist.

I do not know whose child it is,
It is an image of what precedes God.

---


Chinese Character Yuan, 淵, Abyss, Deep, Profound
ABYSS / DEEP WATER (淵)
(Deep, Profound = Yuan)

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 4
translated by Frank J. MacHovec (1962)

Tao is a vast immeasurable void.
It can be used to infinity; it is truly inexhaustible.

Like nature, it appears to be the origin of everything.
In it, conflicts (sharp edges) are satisfied (rounded);
differences (tangles) are resolved (united);
observations (light) are clarified (tempered);
disturbances (turmoil) are quieted (submerged).

It is like a deep, dark pool. I do not know its source.
It is like a prelude to nature, a preface to God.

---

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 4
translated by Ursula K. Le Guin (1998)

The way is empty,
used, but not used up.
Deep, yes! ancestral
to the ten thousand things.

Blunting edge,
loosing bond,
dimming light,
the way is the dust of the way.[*]

Quiet,
yes, and likely to endure.
Whose child? born
before the gods.

---
[*] DWIGHT GODDARD [translator] says:
"The Tao appears to be emptiness but it is never exhausted. Oh, it is profound! It appears to have preceded everything. It dulls its own sharpness, unravels its own fetters, softens its own brightness, identifies itself with its own dust."

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 4
translated by Tolbert McCarroll (1982)

The Tao is like an empty bowl,
      yet it may be used
      without ever needing to be filled.
It is the deep and unfathomable source
      of the ten thousand things.

Blunt the sharpness.
Untie the knot.
Soften the glare.
Settle with the dust.

It is hidden deep yet ever present.
I do not know whose child it is.
It existed before the common ancestor.

---

Daodejing / Tao Te Ching / Chapter Four in Seal Script
(Zhuanshu 篆文, with Wang Pi / Wang Bi Version)
Sealscript
Chapter 4 Seal Script & Interlinear English

sealscript
(1) The Way (2) is overflowing (3) yet (4) in use (5) the same (6) perhaps (7) never (8) becomes full.
(9) A deep abyss (10) yes (11) it seems (12) the ten thousand (13) things (14) the same's (15) ancestor.

Seal Script
(1) blunts (2) it/the (3) sharp
(4) loosens (5) it/the (6) tangled
(7) harmonizes (8) it/the (9) bright
(10) unites with (11) it/the (12) dust

Seal Script
(1) deepest dark (2) indeed (3) [barely] seeming (4) at times (5) to exist
sealscript
(1) I / we (2) do not (3) know (4) who (5) the same's (6) child it is
(7) imaging (8) God (9) the same (10) precedes

 
Tao Te Ching: Chapter 4
translated by Isabella Mears (1922)

Tao is infinite.
If we use It, we find It inexhaustible,
Deep!
It appears to be Ancestor of all things.

It rounds our angles.
It unravels our difficulties.
It harmonizes our Light.
It brings our atoms into Unity.

Pure!
It appears to be everlasting in principle.
I do not know whose Son It is,
It existed before God was manifest in Form.

---

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 4
translated by Herrymon Mauer (1985)

Tao is empty! Use it
And it isn't used up.
Deep! It seems like
The forbear of the ten thousand things.
It blunts edges,
Unties tangles,
Harmonizes lights,
Unites all dusts,
Existent and deep!
I don't know whose child it is.
It looks to be the source.

---

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 4
translated by P. J. Maclagan (1898-99)

1.
Tao is empty, and using it we must never be full.
Deep it is, resembling the Ancestor of all things.

2.
Blunt sharpness: loose entanglements: attemper light: harmonize dusk. [*]
Placed it is, resembling that which might always survive.

Seal Script
(1) deepest dark (2) indeed (3) [barely] seeming (4) at times (5) to exist

3.
I do not know whose son it is: it appears to be before God.

---
[*] P. J. MACLAGAN comments: It is practically indifferent whether this paragraph
refers to Tao or the person who embodies Tao.

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 4
translated by Arthur Waley (1934)

The Way is like an empty vessel
That yet may be drawn from
Without ever needing to be filled.
It is bottomless; the very progenitor
of all things in the world.      
In it all sharpness is blunted,
All tangles untied,
All glare tempered,
All dust soothed. [*]
It is like a deep pool that never dries.
Was it too the child of something else?
We cannot tell.
But as a substanceless image it existed
before the Ancestor.     

---
[*] ARTHUR WALEY comments:
"Dust is the Taoist symbol for the noise and fuss
of everyday life."

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 4
translated by Livia Kohn (1993)

The Tao is empty.
Use it.
It will never overflow
Abysmal it is —
The ancestor of all beings.

Blunting blades,
Opening knots,
Joining light,
Merging with dust.
Profound it is —
Like something eternal.

I do not know.
Whose child is it?
Its appearance precedes the gods.

---


Chinese Character Xiang, 象, Image, Concept
IMAGE /CONCEPT (象 = Xiang)
(literally, an "Elephant")

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 4
translated by J. H. McDonald (1996)

The Tao is like an empty container:
it can never be emptied and can never be filled.
Infinitely deep, it is the source of all things.
It dulls the sharp, unties the knotted,
shades the lighted, and unites all of creation with dust.

It is hidden but always present.
I don't know who gave birth to it.
It is older than the concept of God.

sealscript
(1) I / we (2) do not (3) know (4) who (5) the same's (6) child it is
(7) image (8) God (9) the same (10) precedes
---

Chinese Character 沖, Chong, Overflowing, Unlimited
OVERLFOWING (沖)
(Wash Over, Flush, Infuse = Chong)

"The Way is overflowing yet in use
the same perhaps never becomes full."

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 4
translated by Shrine of Wisdom (1924)

How unfathomable is Tao! An infinite depth, the Source of all that is,
the Ancient Progenitor, before all things.

Yet how pure and still is Tao!

It smoothes the rough, unravels the entangled,
tempers excessive light, clarifies the obscure.

It is everlasting.

I do not know who gave it birth; Tao is before Ti — the Conceivable.

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Chapters INDEX (TOP)
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