A Translation of Laozi’s 42nd Verse in the Dao De Jing


Si Shi Er Zhang (42nd Chapter)

Dao sheng yi


Yi sheng er


Er sheng san,

二 生 三,

San sheng wan wu.

三 生 万 物。

Wan wu fu yin er bao yang

万 物 负 阴 而 抱 阳,

Chong qi yi wei he.

冲 气 以 为 和。


Discourse gave birth to one, the one the two,

The two gave birth to three, where multiplied

Ten thousand things. Ten thousand things endured

The lunar-yin, embraced the solar-yang:

Charged spirits harmonise when they conflict.

In Other Words

Speech is that which gives Being and nuance to things. Inevitably, oppositions emerge by this new-found complexity. But only when they interact through dissent, does harmony emerge. Put simply, without a culture that fosters debate and disagreement do we maintain a superficial peace instead of an authentic one.

Happy Chinese New Year and may we find the courage to seek an authentic harmony! 恭喜发财!

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