'One Who Knows Does Not Speak...'

Good translation! A few points to comment upon…
[cite] riverwolf:[/cite]
The spirits had One and were responsive.

While shen (神) translates first as spirit, I favor using its secondary meanings, mind. It is my sense that from mind comes spirit, i.e., what we see is a reflection of our subjective experience, so I might as well just call it as I see it. There is no there, there. The objective ‘reality’ we see is an illusion mirroring our innate needs and fears. Admittedly though, I’m taking liberties in the translation. :oops:
Hence the rulers claim themselves to be powerless, small and unworthy.
Is such an action, by not being based on the unrefined, evil?
We need not even ask.

The greatest honor is no honor.
不欲琭琭如玉 珞珞如石
Not wanting to shine like jade or sparking like jewels.

The most difficult part for translators is the part in bold. I sensed some sarcasm and frustration here, so it seemed to mean that Lao Zi is complaining about rulers using refined speech to claim that they are "powerless small and unworthy".

I have tasted the ruler position and also found myself “powerless, small and unworthy”. As they say, it is lonely at the top. This is an example of how experience and ‘knowing’ are intertwined. Furthermore, one does not actually need to be a ‘great’ ruler to experience the role of ruler. It is only necessary to fully experience the ‘upper position’ to realize how powerless, small and unworthy it actually is (and not what instinct promises us). Fully experience? That is the trick. Mundane daily life presents us with myriad ‘upper position’ and ‘lower position’ moments. We need only watch carefully to notice. Only? :roll:
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