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 Post subject: mistake with Lao Tzu
PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2004 9:42 am 
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I am a Professor of Philosophy and I wanted to inform you of a rather common mistake on your page regarding Lao Tzu. The quote on your page "the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step" appears in some translations. However, the best translations and the original chinese says "the journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one's feet". This is a subtle but important difference. The concept being discussed involves action that arises naturally and spontaneously from stillness. Hence "the Tao does nothing and nothing is left undone." All pure action for Lao Tzu is "wei wu wei". A doing that arises from not doing.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2004 11:57 am 
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When I google "miles begins beneath one's feet" I get only one hit
http://www.wfu.edu/~moran/64.html
This is the first time I've heard this, and as far as Internet resources go there is only this one webpage resource that is in agreement (at least for that exact phrasing).
I actually like this version a lot better. Thanks for checking in with this. A very interesting post. Welcome to Quotations Page.

Oops. Found some more.
Quote:
The following is a famous sentence from Chapter 64 of Dao De Jing:
Image
It is cited in our article in the following form:
"A journey of a thousand miles began with a single step."

This form is very appropriate because the article considers the extent to which the limit of an infinite sequence of steps is determined by the first one. However, the Chinese quotation does not mention first steps, and, moreover, is in the present tense. The excellent Zhongwen.com web site gives interpretations of pictograms, allowing us to translate the characters in order as

thousand li of walk, begins at foot below

In the order corresponding to English, the list is

walk of thousand li begins at below foot

Over the centuries, the li-to-mile ratio has varied in the interval from 0.30 to 0.41. The sentence could be rendered as:

"A four-hundred mile walk begins beneath one's feet."

or

" Even the longest journey must start from where you stand."

These forms are not readily applicable to anything considered in our article. It is a consolation that the Zhongwen.com web site accepts tradition and gives the translation of the sentence in question as

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
http://mat.uab.es/~dicks/Cannon.html


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2004 4:33 am 
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I'm readying a feature that will let me keep the traditional quote in cases like this but will let us post annotations and cross-references about the quotation.

Probably in a few days, stay tuned.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2004 7:33 am 
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"the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step" appears in some translations

In 2002 I was browsing through the Oxford Book of Quotations or the Oxford Book of Aphorisms and found this to be attributed to Confucius. I even made a note of it and stored it in a file. (But I did not make a note of the source so I may be in error.) In any event, it is attributed to Confucius in the book that I browsed.

Another one that I noted is attributed as a Dutch Proverb.

He who is outside his door already has the hard part of his journey behind him.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2004 9:56 pm 
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I've added an annotation to this quotation pointing this out -

http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/24004.html

Let me know what you think.l

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Michael Moncur
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