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(Originally published December 2008)

Here’s an important passage from the Guanzi:

德者,道之舍。物得以生,

生知得以職道之精。故德者得也。

得也者,其謂所得以然也。

以無為之謂道,舍之之謂德,

故道之與德無閒,故言之者不別也。

閒之理者,謂其所以舍也。

Allyn Rickett translates:
“Power is a dwelling of the Way. Things must obtain it in order to live. The living must know how to obtain it in order to grasp the essence of the Way. Therefore, Power is obtainment, and obtainment refers to obtaining the means for things to be what they are. When nonassertive, we call it ‘the Way.’ When dwelling in things, we call it ‘the Power.’ Therefore, the Way and Power cannot be separated, and so those who talk about them treat them as the same. The reason for distinguishing between them is to indicate that in which the Way dwells.” (Rickett p. 77)
— Note: Rickett follows Guo Moruo in emending 其謂所得以然也 to 謂得其所以然也 and follows others in deleting the “以” in 以無為之謂道”.”

Harold Roth translates:
“Inner Power is the lodging place of the Way. Things attain it and are thereby born. The living attain it and thereby understand the vital essence of the Way. Therefore ‘Inner Power’ is to attain. ‘To attain’ means to attain the means by which things are so. It is what does not act that is called the Way. It is what lodges (the Way), that is called Inner Power. Therefore, there is no gap between the Way and Inner Power. Therefore to speak of them is not to separate them. That there is no gap between them addresses how Inner Power lodges the Way.” Harold Roth (Sources of Chinese Tradition p. 262)

There’s a few differences. I’m unsure about the translation of a few things, for example “It is what lodges (the Way), that is called Inner Power” (舍之之謂德). Does anyone reading this (if there is anyone), have any comments?

Note: She 舍 a dwelling, abode; to dwell, to lodge, to rest also is used in the Guanzi to refer to the heart-mind, which needs to be kept clean.