The Tao Te Ching, Chapter 20
Feng and English:

Give up learning, and put an end to your troubles.

Is there a difference between yes and no?
Is there a difference between good and evil?
Must I fear what others fear? What nonsense!
Other people are contented, enjoying the sacrifical feast of the ox.
In spring some go to the park, and climb the terrace,
But I alone am drifting, not knowing where I am.
Like a newborn babe before it learns to smile,
I am alone, without a place to go.

Others have more than they need, but I alone have nothing.
I am a fool. Oh, yes! I am confused.
Others are clear and bright,
But I alone am dim and weak.
Others are sharp and clever,
But I alone am dull and stupid.
Oh, I drift like the waves of the sea,
Without direction, like the restless wind.

Everyone else is busy,
But I alone am aimless and depressed.
I am different.
I am nourished by the great mother.

Le Guin:

Being different

How much difference between yes and no?

What the people fear
must be feared.
O desolation!
Not yet, not yet has it reached its limit!

Everybody's cheerful,
cheerful as if at a party,
or climbing a tower in springtime.
And here I sit unmoved,
clueless, like a child,
a baby too young to smile.

Forlorn, forlorn.
Like a homeless person.
Most people have plenty.
I'm the one that's poor,
a fool right through.

Ignorant, ignorant.
Most people are so bright.
I'm the one that's dull.
Most people are so keen.
I don't have the answers.
Oh, I'm desolate, at sea,
adrift, without harbor.

Everybody has something to do.
I'm the clumsy one, out of place.
I'm the different one,
for my food
is the milk of the mother.

Peter Merel:
20. Wandering

What is the difference between assent and denial?
What is the difference between beautiful and ugly?
What is the difference between fearsome and afraid?

The people are merry as if at a magnificent party
Or playing in the park at springtime,
But I am tranquil and wandering,
Like a newborn before it learns to smile,
Alone, with no true home.

The people have enough and to spare,
Where I have nothing,
And my heart is foolish,
Muddled and cloudy.

The people are bright and certain,
Where I am dim and confused;
The people are clever and wise,
Where I am dull and ignorant;
Aimless as a wave drifting over the sea,
Attached to nothing.

The people are busy with purpose,
Where I am impractical and rough;
I do not share the peoples' cares
But I am fed at nature's breast.

Tao Te Ching Back Next

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