Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tao Te Ching and me

To quote Wikipedia about the Tao Te Ching:

"There are many possible translations of the book's title, owing to the polysemy of the component Chinese words:

Dào/Tao 道 literally means "way", "road", "path", or "route," but was extended to mean "path ahead", "way forward", "method", "principle", "doctrine", or simply "the Way". This term, which was variously used by other Chinese philosophers (including Confucius, Mencius, Mozi, and Hanfeizi), has special meaning within the context of Taoism, where it implies the essential, unnamable process of the universe.

Dé/Te 德 basically means "virtue" in the sense of "personal character", "inner strength", or "integrity", but was used differently by Confucianists to mean "morality". The semantics of this Chinese word resemble English virtue, which developed from a (now archaic) sense of "inner potency" or "divine power" (as in "healing virtue of a drug") to the modern meaning of "moral excellence" or "goodness". Compare the compound word dàodé (道德 "ethics", "ethical principles", "morals," or "morality").

Jīng/Ching 經 originally meant "norm", "rule", "plan", "warp" (vs. "woof") and was semantically extended to mean "scripture", "canon", "great book", or "classic".

Thus, Tao Te Ching can be translated as "The Scripture/Classic/Canon of the Way/Path and the Power/Virtue", etc.
Note that there is in fact no "its" in the title, either explicitly or implicitly. Therefore, commonly accepted translations of the title such as "The Book of the Way and Its Power" are in fact adding an extra element that takes away from the accuracy."

This says far better than I - "Gee, really, with all those experts contributing to it? Like Duh!" And I'm only a beginner, and I'll admit, a oft lazy student at that. I tend to explore it two ways. The first when I'm im a severe episodes of depression with my Dysthymia, often called double depression and when wander away when I feel better. The second is when do my street photography, walking around looking, seeing and taking photos.

Over the years I've added more ways in the everyday events and activities in my life, such as meeting and talking with people, remembering people I've met occasionally over time, finding humor in the small things in life, enjoying the sheer joy children express, and on and on. Some of my best photography is simply doing, not thinking, but just walking and viewing with the camera.

It's often the times I either get into trouble or forget where I am to find I've lost track of time, place or distance. I only exist as an extension of my camera and, to borrow the worn out saying, the camera and I become one. Trite? Perhaps. But what else is there to explain it? The tool and the hand dissolve into one and the mind and eyes see through the camera to capture what I see. No thinking, just being and doing.

And so I'll continue as I go, and hope I will get better at being a human being and a photographer.

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