道意 Tao Imagine #12
© Tao Fish - bone structure of Daodejing #36 (English commas added).
Copyright ©2019 April 30, 2019
An abstract imagination is a good thing for thinking about how to build a house, of how to create clothing, and of how to provide food and water, but if the imagination is not consciously self-regulated with the standard of Nature's way, then the imagination can confuse the mind, and cause people to believe things that cannot be true.
Real things can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, tasted, and experienced firsthand... real things exist within the standard of Nature's way. The human mind cannot know what exists beyond Nature, and though it might sometimes be a form of entertainment to ponder what might exist, the ponderings ought to be recognized as mere fanciful imaginations, and to not be believed as being real.
Having an imaginary belief, might not always be a bad thing if the belief does not interfere with the person's normal routines of life, but when the imaginary belief grows too large, the belief can cripple the person's logic, and cause the person to drift too far into a world of fantasy.
As an example of imaginations that cannot be true, is the 1919 translation of Daodejing by Dwight Goddard. As history is told, Goddard followed the beliefs of academia while growing up, then followed an ideology while in America, then traveled to Asia to be a missionary of his followed ideology, but while in Asia he began following an Asian ideology, and then when traveling to another country he began following that country's ideology, and then when returning to America he attempted to convince people to follow his own personal blend of followed ideologies. Follow, follow, follow... Goddard's translation is an instructive example of what happens when people follow other people's imaginations... the follower, himself, loses the ability to think on his own, and he can, then, much too easily, invent more imaginations that his following must be true for all things, including his translations of ancient Chinese texts.
Translating a foreign language is like a game of chess... each word-piece has its own specific pattern of movement, each word-piece has its own individual value and strength relative to the other word-pieces, and as each word-piece is consciously analyzed, the word-piece movements are chosen to fit very specific patterns. Some patterns best fit 'positional' where all word-pieces defend the others, while some patterns are 'tactical', where only a few word-pieces moving harmonious with each other leave the 'positional' pattern to perform a specific purpose of their own.
The idea of chess and translations, is that each word-move is consciously analyzed, consciously critiqued, consciously chosen relative to the surrounding word-pieces, and consciously arranged for a very specific purpose. The favored goals of chess and translations are similar... both seek accuracy.
Translations, like Goddard's, do not seek accuracy, nor seek harmony of word meanings, nor seek harmony of word patterns... the translations merely move words willy-nilly, insert checker-words, insert canasta-words, insert football-words, and the result is like the chess term 'patzer', implying a player whose skill has no coherency of movements, no understanding of the topic, no intellectual acuity, and much too often makes moves that contradict the other.
Also similar between chess and translations — as well as numerous other topics that people find interest in — is the intellectual enjoyment of discussing the analyses behind each word-piece move. The following comments are presented as brief segments of analyses of Goddard's translation.
The numbered translations below are my own drafts of the original Chinese texts, and the translations are given as an illustration of sentence patterns (bone structure) accompanied with generalized synonyms, while knowingly and purposefully not being an accurate translation that communicates the original text's topic.
Daodejing section one structure:
"Way certainly way not common way.
Name certainly name not common name.
Nothing name heaven earth it beginning.
Be name ten-thousand thing it mother.
Therefore common not desire because observe it subtle, common have desire because observe it boundary.
These both person-ist similar, put-forth while queer name similar meaning it complicated, complicated it also complicated, many subtleties it door."
 'Way certainly way not common way'.
'The Tao that can be understood cannot be the primal, or cosmic, Tao,...'
If Daodejing is pointing at 'dao' being the Source of all Creation, then yes, agreed, it is not possible for a created thing to understand that which created it, and no less impossible for any human to grasp the how and why Creation exists.
If Daodejing is pointing at the Source's 'method' of Creation, then Goddard's first sentence is sufficient enough, and nothing more needs to be said.
However, Goddard used 13 words for the original text's 6 words, while also not retaining any semblance to what was originally written. Goddard did not translate the Chinese text, but rather Goddard merely inserted words of his own imaginary beliefs.
The practice of translators inserting numerous unnecessary English particles is very common, which appears to suggest that the translators might feel that the English language is supposed to be spoken and written with little words easy enough for little children to understand. However, the addition of English particles fully changes all meanings of the original texts, and renders the translations to actually be quite false. Except for an occasional benefit of adding one or two English particles to help distinguish where sequences of thought ought to be paused or redirected, there is no usefulness in the popular use of many English particles.
 'Name certainly name not common name'.
'just as an idea that can be expressed in words cannot be the infinite idea.'
Here, Goddard's second sentence appears to attempt to give additional reasoning of the first sentence, and the second sentence also initially appears to be conceptually semi-accurate, that any 'idea that can expressed in words' cannot be valid relative to the first sentence's statement.
However, the second portion of Goddard's second sentence contradicts itself by stating 'infinite idea'... the second portion 'expressed in words' what the first sentence had already said cannot be understood. The word 'infinite' is an imaginary flat two-dimensional man-measure that cannot possibly relate to a Source that created the two dimensions. Left right, up down, first last, finite infinite, all forms of man-measure are man-made, all man-measures only relate to the Created thing, and never relate to the created thing's Creator.
Goddard's second sentence, therefore, made the claim that the author 'understood the primal Tao', and that the author 'understood the primal Tao to be infinite'.
And how could it be possible for anyone to know that the Source is 'infinite'? All claims of an 'infinite Source' are imaginary, and possess no accurate logic.
Since the term "infinite" only relates to the created Creation, then, the Creator cannot be "infinite".
The original Chinese text has the same word sequences for both the first and second sentences, except for changing the words 'way' and 'name'. Goddard's translation of the second sentence ought to have had a very similar pattern as the first sentence, but Goddard's translation was not even close. Goddard's choice of having different translations of the two sentences illustrated that he possessed no idea of what the topic is, which also invalidated the whole of his translation.
Like the graphic at the beginning of this article, it is very common within ancient Chinese texts for sentences to be patterned the same while using one or two different words per sentence. If a translation of one sentence does not fit the second sentence's translation, then the most likely reason is because both sentences are being translated incorrectly, which is itself likely caused by a lack of experience with the sentences' topic. The text's bone structure is very often an excellent guide of how the original text ought to be translated, and when an individual does not observe the bone structure, the result is always a false and contradictory translation.
 'Nothing name heaven earth it beginning'.
'And yet this ineffable Tao was the source of all spirit and matter,'
And how did Goddard allegedly know? Previously, Goddard made the claim 'The Tao that can be understood cannot be the primal, or cosmic, Tao', but Goddard then repeatedly claimed throughout the book to understand the 'primal cosmic Tao'.
No human ever has known, and never will know, precisely how Creation exists at this very moment, and, if the nature of Nature is itself an unknown, then it is far less possible to know how the unknown thing was created. Goddard's words are like western philosophy... of taking an unknown thing, giving the unknown thing an invented noun-name, and then using the invented noun-name as an explanation of another unknown thing that was also given an invented noun-name. All circular reasoning, all imaginary, and all contradictory-incoherent.
The original Chinese text is very simple, very easy to translate, amply descriptive of its intentions, and rational (up to a point anyway). Goddard took an easy thing and twisted it into an impossible imaginary thing.
 'Be name ten-thousand thing it mother'.
'and being expressed was the mother of all created things.'
Goddard leaped from the 'unknowable' Source to a 'knowable' created thing, with no knowledge nor understanding of what occurred in-between the Source and the created things. Goddard's words, claimed that there could only be one Source-way (Tao), which also claims that Goddard understood that no other Sources nor co-Sources existed.
A fellow once made a remark about Creation that was quite good... generally, the fellow said to 'give three logical steps between Creator and Creation'. The fellow's statement was fully valid... if Tao is the way of all created things, then the believer ought to be able to give three or more logical steps between Tao and created things. Goddard, and all similar authors also, could not give any logical steps, thereby proving that the authors' words are merely made-up imaginary.
The 'ten-thousand' term is also used to merely point at large quantities, like today it might be said 'billions of things'.
Also, Chinese, Korean, Greek, and many other languages are structured upon different sequences than English. The emphases of the sentence 'Be name ten-thousand thing it mother' is upon 'name', then 'things', and then the concept of nascenting the things that are then named. Goddard's sentence "and being expressed was the mother of all created things" omitted the 'name' word, while also rearranging the sentence structure which resulted in a fully different mental pattern, thereby losing what the ancient Chinese text spoke of.
The structuring of linear sequences — also like chess moves — is very important for numerous reasons, but in the English language the idea of sequence patterning within translations is almost always ignored. Once an author's mental pattern is recognized, then the remainder of the author's sentences ought to be translated similarly so as to ensure cohesion of meaning. Common English translations do not recognize the original authors' patterns, which results in the translations themselves being contradictory and absent of logic.
An individual's inability to self-think is intimately connected with the inability to self-observe one's own thoughts, and if not able to self-observe one's thoughts, then the person is also unable to recognize written mental patterns, also unable to translate Chinese, and also unable to grasp the topics within many of the Confucian writings, especially within Daodejing.
 'Therefore common not desire because observe it subtle,'
'Therefore not to desire the things of sense is to know the freedom of spirituality;'
'Therefore' (故) implies that the previous words relate to and explain the present words. It requires a lengthily stretched imagination to believe that the 'unknowable Tao' relates to 'not desire sensory perceptions'. And also, within what possible reasoning can the not desiring of sensory perceptions relate to 'know the freedom of spirituality'?
Upon what possible reasoning does the word 'spirituality' relate to any of the previous words?
The idea of 'not desiring sensory perceptions being a form of spirituality' is from an ideology west of ancient China, and has zero relevance to when the first portions of Daodejing were written. Except for the 'therefore' word, Goddard's sentence #5 is one-hundred percent imaginary and twisted to fit what he already believed in.
 'common have desire because observe it boundary'.
'and to desire is to learn the limitation of matter.'
There are no logical steps in-between any of the statements, not so much as a logical duration of mental connection between Goddard's individual words.
The Chinese words are logically connected, and no contradictions exist like in Goddard's translation.
 'These both person-ist similar, put-forth while queer name similar meaning it complicated,'
These two things spirit and matter, so different in nature, have the same origin.'
Again Goddard claimed to know how the Source created Creation, to also know how matter and spirit exist in the present, while Goddard also invented conclusions without any evidence, without any logical durations between words, and while also inventing conclusions that are based upon a primitive interpretation of two-dimensional man-measure.
The 'person-ist' term implies 'an individual related to the topic', like 'violinist' or 'cellist'. Frequently used within ancient Chinese texts, 'person-ist' is often combined with a preceding number like 'three person-ist' or 'five person-ist', and the numbers relate to the previous or following list of items. In the current sentence, the 'both' relates to the preceding two items of topic: (1) 'common not desire because observe it subtle' and (2) 'common have desire because observe it boundary'. The two topics, therefore, must be translated to be harmonious with the surrounding texts as well as being rational for one individual to be an '-ist' of the two.
Goddard, however, invented an imaginary interpretation that was not so much as close to the sentences' topic, his merely inserting what he wanted the text to say, twisting the text to appear to support his preexisting imaginary beliefs.
 'complicated it also complicated, many subtleties it door'.
This unity of origin is the mystery of mysteries, but it is the gateway to spirituality.'
Goddard's 'unity of origin' is a blunt statement of claiming to know how the Source created Creation, which fully contradicts his first sentence.
The insertion of 'mystery of mysteries' is another invented imagination of what Goddard wanted the text to say, while Goddard's words never so much as approached close to what the original Chinese words stated.
The original Chinese words of the sentence's latter words are close to 'many subtleties it door', with not so much as a possible hint of 'spirituality'.
And so goes the common translations of Daodejing, the authors purposefully inserting words that do not exist in the original ancient Chinese texts, while the authors also fully contradicting their own words in all sentences.
Goddard's translation parallels the many other translations that twist and fabricate Daodejing into allegedly teaching the same false ideologies that the translators believed in.
Goddard's translation is but one of countless others that are so inconsistent of logic that the common reader is apt to imagine that the topic must be extremely deep and profound because the reader cannot make sense of the words. But, no, the problem with translations like Goddard's, is not the reader, but the authors. The translations appear to be incoherent, because, the translations are in fact incoherent.
Goddard's words, not agree with anything, not even amongst themselves. 'Laozi's' words, all agree, no conflicts, make sense.
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Copyright©2019 by Larry Neal Gowdy. All rights reserved.
Updated April 30, 2019
Background image color, sizing, and clarity by Larry Neal Gowdy.