Sacred Texts  Taoism  Index  Previous  Next 


The word shang means "constant, ordinary, usual, common" etc., and the contrast requires the sense that the saint has not the heart as other people have, which means a heart of his own.

The "one hundred families" is a Chinese term which means the people of a district.

p. 172

The second section of this chapter contains a difficulty in the text. Its third sentence reads in the Chinese text as translated in our former editions, "Virtue is good"; but this does not make good sense, as it is trivial. While pondering over the meaning of these two characters the translator discovered two versions 9 which replace the word teh, "virtue," by its homophone, teh, "to obtain," and it seemed quite probable that this was the original reading. The change from teh, "to obtain," to teh, "virtue," could naturally and at an early date have originated through a careless scribe in a book where the word teh, "virtue," occurred so frequently. Once introduced, the mistake could easily have been perpetuated in the text.

The word teh, "to obtain," makes good sense and might even suggest itself as the most appropriate text emendation. On the ground of this consideration we might prefer the reading teh, "to obtain,"

p. 173

and propose to translate the passage thus:

"The good I meet with goodness, the bad I also meet with goodness; thus I obtain goodness (i. e., I actualize virtue.) The faithful I meet with faith, the faithless I also meet with faith; thus I obtain faith (i. e., I actualize faith)."

In other words, we must meet not only the good with goodness but the bad also with goodness, if we want to actualize the ideal of goodness; and we must meet not only the faithful with faith but the faithless also with faith, in order to actualize the ideal of faith.

This is the obvious meaning of Lao-tze, for he here expresses his view of the way a man can become truly good and faithful. He does not admit any utilitarian argument and lays down the rule for a man who follows the Tao. He can be truly good and truly faithful only if he is good and faithful to all, whether he has to deal with the good or the not-good, the faithful or the faithless.

The Manchu translator had before him a text which read teh, "virtue," not teh,

p. 174

[paragraph continues] "obtain," but he construes teh, "virtue," as a genitive. If he is right, we must translate, "That is virtue's goodness," and further down, "That is virtue's faith."

After some hesitation we have finally adopted the interpretation of the Manchu version.


172:9 See the Emendations and Comments to the second issue of the author's Lao-Tze's Tao-Teh-King, p. vii.

Next: Chapter 50