Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dao De Jing #30: Violence

The Dao De Jing, besides being one of the foundational documents of philosophical Daoism, is one of the treasures of world literature. You can click here for a online version of this classic. Below is Chapter #30, on Violence.

30. Violence

Powerful men are well advised not to use violence,
For violence has a habit of returning;
Thorns and weeds grow wherever an army goes,
And lean years follow a great war.

A general is well advised
To achieve nothing more than his orders:
Not to take advantage of his victory.
Nor to glory, boast or pride himself;
To do what is dictated by necessity,
But not by choice.

For even the strongest force will weaken with time,
And then its violence will return, and kill it.


walt said...


Haven't we learned anything yet?

Rick Matz said...

Violence is a part of human nature. I think that's why the DDJ addresses it.

walt said...

Yes, I was referring to what's going on in Iran, and thinking how up-to-the-minute the DDJ still is!

Do you have a favorite translation? The one I've lugged around for years is an old one, by Lin Yutang, long out of print. I was especially interested in the so-called Bamboo Editions, that were discovered at Mangdawi and Guodian. Robert Henricks has published these translations.

Here is a long article about the history of the DDJ from Stanford University, with lots of interesting background.

Rick Matz said...

My sentimental favorite is the edition by Gia Fu Feng and Jane English. The black and white photography that accompanies each chapter is what does it for me.

Thanks for the links!