There is a thing confusedly formed
Born before heaven and earth.
Silent and void
It stands alone and does not change,
Goes round and does not weary.
It is capable of being the mother of the world.
I know not its name
So I style it ‘the way’.
I give it the makeshift name of ‘the great’.
Being great, it is further described as receding,
Receding, it is described as far away,
Being far away, it is described as turning back.
Hence the way is great; heaven is great; earth is great; and the king is also great. Within the realm there are four things that are great, and the king counts as one.
Man models himself on earth,
Earth on heaven,
Heaven on the way
And the way on that which is naturally so.
In the stars man finds gods; in the earth he finds himself. He finds himself in trees, rivers, mountains and seas; in wind but not in the sun, in rain but not lightening. Man is made of earth and not light; man breathes and the stars wink. But the waters can glisten and the mountains can host gods; trees have spirits; men and women smile; and so the earth reaches up to the heavens. The way is nimble like a sparrow.