The word tsung, 3 "arch-father," translates a Chinese term which means "patriarch, or first ancestor, founder of the family," and is frequently used with reference to Shang Ti, the Lord on High, in the sense of God.
The word chan, "dust," is a Buddhist term which means the worry of worldliness, and it is possible that this usage antedates Buddhism and that the word was current in the same sense in the time of Lao-tze. If that be so, if chan means the troubles of life, the travailing of the world, we offer the following alternate translation of the verse in which the word occurs:
"It will blunt its own sharpness,
Will its tangles unravel;
It will dim its own radiance
And conform to its travail."
The same holds good in Chapter 56, where the same verse is quoted.