为学日益,为道日损 – Chinese philosophy and culture

wéi xué rì yì, wéi dào rì sǔn 为学日益,为道日损

Pursue Knowledge by Adding; Pursue Dao by Subtracting

追求知识要一天比一天增加,探求“道”要一天比一天减少(偏见和欲望)。“为学”是指知识和学问的积累,因此要做加法,以求广博丰富;“为道”则是对世界普遍法则的领悟,因此要做减法,去除一切世俗偏见和个人欲望,做到无知无欲,进而达到“无为”。“为道日损”也是老子所主张的治国理政的基本原则,即制定政策必须简化易行,尽可能不干扰民众的自然生活。这是道家“无为”理念的体现。

Pursue knowledge by adding more each day. Pursue Dao by subtracting some (bias and desires) each day. “Pursuing knowledge” refers to the accumulation of knowledge and wisdom, hence it uses addition to broaden and enrich. “Pursuing Dao” refers to the understanding of universal principles; hence it uses subtraction to eliminate all bias and individualistic desires to get rid of unhealthy knowledge and undesirable wishes, which in turn achieves “non-action.” Pursuing Dao through subtraction is also a basic principle of governance advocated by Laozi. That is, established policies must be simple and easily implemented, and interfere as little as possible with the natural lives of people. This exemplifies the Daoist concept of “non-action.”

引例 Citation:

◎为学日益,为道日损。损之又损,以至于无为。无为而无不为。取天下常以无事,及其有事,不足以取天下。(《老子·四十八章》)

(追求知识要一天比一天增加,探求“道”要一天比一天减少。减少又减少,以至于达到“无为”的境地。如果能够做到“无为”,任何事情都可以做成。治理天下的人,要经常保持清净而不干扰民众,如果施政繁苛、干扰民众,那就不配治理天下了。)

In pursuing knowledge, add more each day. In pursuing Dao, subtract some (bias and desires) each day. Subtract and subtract, until you achieve “nonaction.” If you can achieve “non-action,” you will be able to do anything. Those who govern the land must always do nothing that interferes with the people; if they interfere with the people through burdensome policies, they are not fit to govern the land. (Laozi)

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