[Note: I italicize phrases I borrow from the chapter, and link to phrases I borrow from other chapters to help tie chapters together. While making it more tedious to read, :? the Tao Te Ching is best pondered in the context of the whole.
Go back to holding fast to the mother brings to my mind the wisdom of consolidation. Desire keeps driving me forward and sooner or later I discover I'm out, way out, on a limb. Truly, â€˜two steps forward - one step backwardâ€™ is the only way to [chref=69]advance[/chref] in life and maintain a sane balance. The illusion of solutions easily grabs hold, and off I go [chref=16]willfully innovating while ignorant of the constant[/chref]. Of course, less so now that Iâ€™m older and wiserâ€¦ or is it that Iâ€™ve just burned up much of my youthful energy. Either way, hooray!
To see the small (discernment), use the light, but give up the discernment brings to mind the saying â€˜like water off a duck backâ€™. Observing the nature of things is one of the joys of consciousness, until I get emotionally entangled, become [chref=57]meddlesome[/chref] and help affairs. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. All I can do is patiently [chref=56]untangle the knots[/chref] as best I can. â€˜Patiently untangling knotsâ€™ is a superb metaphor for living life, unless of course I'm in the process of actually untangling knots.
First, the literal with some kinks smoothed over:
All under heaven had a beginning; consider the origin of all under heaven.
Since you have this origin, use this to know its seed.
Since you know its seed, abide close by the origin.
Sinking into this, live without danger.
Stopple the exchange, shut the door; to the end, life is easy,
Open the exchange, help affairs; to the end, life gets in the way.
Seeing the small is called clarity, abiding by the soft is called strong.
Use the light, and again return to clarity, without leaving behind a life of calamity.
Correctly, this serves as practice of the constant.
Now, the literal kinks and all:
heaven under have beginning, think (consider, believe) heaven under mother (origin).
already (since, now that) get its (that) mother (origin), use (take; because of; so as to) know its (that) son (child, seed, egg).
already (since, now that) know its (that) son (child, seed), duplicate (again) observe (abide by, close to) its (that) mother (origin).
sink (submerge, rise beyond, disappear, die) body (life, oneself) not danger.
fill in (stuff) its (that) exchange (convert), shut its (that) door, end (finish, death, after all, whole) body not diligent (frequent).
open its (that) exchange (add), aid (relieve, help) its (that) matter (affair, involvement), end (death, after all, whole) body not rescue (save, help).
see its (that) small say (call) bright (clear, honest), observe (abide by, near) soft (supple, yielding) say (call) strive (strong, better).
use (employ, apply, need) its (that) light (brightness, honor), duplicate (again) go back to (return, come together) its (that) bright (clear, honest), without lose (omit, leave behind) body calamity.
correctly act (serve as, do, become) practice (review, habit custom) ordinary (normal, constant, invariable).