Tao Te Ching Chapter 5

 1. But for heaven and earth’s humaneness, the ten thousand things are straw dogs. But for the holy man’s humaneness, the hundred families are straw dogs.2. Is not the space between heaven and earth like unto a bellows? It is empty; yet it collapses not. It moves, and more and more comes forth. [But]

3. “How soon exhausted is a gossip’s fulsome talk!

And should we not prefer
On the middle path to walk?”

Translated by D. T. Suzuki & Paul Carus, 1880

Heaven and earth are not humane:

The 10,000 things are straw dogs to them.
Sages are not humane:
People are straw dogs to them.

Yet heaven and earth
And all the space between are like a bellows:
Empty and inexhaustible,
Always producing more.

Longwinded speech is exhausting.
Better to stay centered.


Translation unknown; found athttp://ralstoncreekreview.com/chapter-5-straw-dogs-2/#more-515

Mindwords and Roots

Translations really do prove that words don’t cut it. Part of my spiritual practice is to take what I need and leave the rest, knowing it will come back around or evaporate. I have been through several translations of this chapter and it became evident to me that each reflected the eye, ear and sensibility of the translator – and in the case of this chapter those perceptions seemed to vary widely, and even conflict, as evidenced in the first lines of the above two works.

I will follow the same path here and provide my own “fulsome talk” and “longwinded speech” until I am exhausted and remember it is better to walk centered on the middle path in silence, to walk in the breath of Heaven and Earth.

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 5  (Reflected)

Heaven and Earth are One. Nothing is between them.

Heaven and Earth breathe, and ten thousand living things come forth.

Everything is in the living breath of Heaven and Earth.

The ten thousand things mean nothing to Heaven and Earth.

It is breath. It is living.

It has no meaning.

It is Being.

Humanity sees meaning in ten thousand things.

Humanity builds ten thousand inanimate facsimiles of Being.

An idol of clay and straw, a golden calf, a crown of words.

Humanity forgets to breathe with Heaven and Earth.

The sage knows this.

There is nothing between Heaven and Earth.

Walk, don’t talk.


And laugh, too. Laughing is a sort of “speed breathing” as far as I can tell.

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