By Jhian Yang
Every new translation of Tao-te ching
claims its originality and truthfulness to the given text. Every new author pretends he is the best as he caught the essence of the Tao, and here's his version. Fact is that one may consider the quality of a translation from the very beginning of the Book, namely the first part of the first paragraph. Here's a new translation of this part:
If you can talk about it,
it isn't Tao.
If it has a name,
it's just another thing.
Tao doesn't have a name. (Ron Hogan)
As you see it is not so much original because the idea of a Tao one can't talk about is very familiar to the Tao-te ching
readers. It sounds right in tune with our main Christian topics including especially the mighty God father (1) whom ways nobody knows. One may as well translate the first part:
We can't talk about God. If one gives Him a name it is no more God.
God has no name, and so forth.
This kind of approaching Tao-te ching is not Taoist, nor Confucian. It is Christian. It's like translating the Bible - namely the New Testament - in Taoist Chinese words. So there's nothing new under the sun.
If one needs to grasp the meaning of the Tao-te ching
text he must firstly accommodate with the Taoist philosophical concepts. Or, to recall the words of James Legge, one should capture the state of mind of the author of the book. One may acquire the same spirit.
one can't capture the state of mind of another man without having to empty his mind first in order to see clearly and be open to the other's views. It is difficult to have this vision when you rose in a Christian
Still what is the meaning of the above part of paragraph one? I already explained it's meaning in my own course on what is Taoism. There we start right with this part and its specific meaning in Taoist
view. Checkout this course at