The Journey is the Way
Hal Pepinsky, email@example.com, "peacemaking" at pepinsky.blogspot.com
February 20, 2014
Since I first encountered it in my first East Asian studies course the fall of 1962 (when JFK, my first and last living political hero), Laoze's Daodejing has been my bible. Legend has it that during the most violent, chaotic time in "modern" Chinese history, the Warring States period that "ended" with the rise of the first (Han) dynasty in the 3rd century BCE, many kings among the many warring kingdoms consulted Laoze for expert opinion on how to keep from being overrun by foreigners with the support of "his" people. Regardless of who all actually wrote the little green book, I always find that the Daodejing is a reliable guide to what we get for how we try to control each other's behavior.
Classical Chinese had no punctuation. It was up to the reader to decide where and when to pause. Compound characters were as rare as they are common in modern Chinese. In sum, writing was lean, each character rich in connotations. In a lexicographical sense, "dao" is road. By connotation, it is how people outside a village got to know and fight with one another. The first characters of the Daodejing (there was no punctuation, remember) is 3 characters All the rest is advice to kings on how to build their own roads.
The first 3 characters are daodaoye. "Ye" means the first 2 characters are the same. In light of Laoze's instructions that follow, I believe the literal way to translate daodaoye into English is: the journey is the way, meaning it's what you make of everything you encounter in life (not what you can do to it) that is the way to make peace in your own kingdom. love and peace, hal