天の道
  • I have the following Kanji that are (supposed to be) a quote from Hagakure.
    Could you please translate for me so that I can be sure that they don't mean something else? Thanks!

    天の道
  • First of all, I'm going to assume you're talking about the book Hagakure (葉隠).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hagakure

    Literally, 天 is heaven (or sky) and 道 is path, way.

    The phrase 天の道 does not appear in this book, but only in a translation/interpretation into modern Japanese. In the original version, which may be hard to understand even for some contemporary native speakers, it says the following:


    我が智慧の一分の智慧計かりにて萬事をなす故、私と成り天道に背き、悪事となる也。

    Hagakure, first sentence of section 1-0005, http://hagakure-text.jp/bunsho/0005.html

    It uses 天道 (lit. heaven-path) instead of 天の道 (lit. path-of-heaven, heaven's path), but it is a matter of style and pretty much means the same.

    A possible translation into modern Japanese can be found here:
    自分のわずかな知恵だけで万事、事をなそうとするから、
    私心となって天の道にそむき悪事をなすことになる。

    http://www.tabuchihiroya.com/2011/09/27.html

    A freely accessible translation can be found on archive. The translation for this sentence is:
    Because we do most things relying only on our own sagacity we become self-interested, turn our backs on reason, and things do not turn out well.

    https://archive.org/details/Hagakure-BookOfTheSamurai

    天道 might be taken in the sense of "the way(s) of Heaven; Providence; divine justice", but here, 天 (heaven/sky → heavenly matters [natural phenomena] as opposed to earthly matters [society, politics] simply stands for nature. 天の道 is thus "the way of nature", "natural laws", or "reason". See the Daijisen dictionary for reference:
    http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/leaf/jn2/154112/m0u/天道/

    Here is an interpretation of the passage on chiebukuro:
    http://m.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/detail/q10106470125

    In short, do not rely on your own knowledge and judgement alone, and seek other people for help, lest you will stray from your path.


    ---------------------


    For reference, here is the translation of the entire section (same text on archive.org):

    Because we do most things relying only on our own sagacity we become self-interested, turn our backs on reason, and  things do not turn out well. As seen by other people this is sordid, weak, narrow and inefficient. When one is not capable of true intelligence, it is good to consult with someone of good sense. An advisor will fulfill the Way when he makes a decision by selfless and frank intelligence because he is not personally involved. This way of doing things will certainly be seen by others as being strongly rooted. It is, for example, like a large tree with many roots. One man's intelligence is like a tree that has been simply stuck in the ground.
  • Wow, thank you very much for that answer!
    It is kind of what I was expecting but the interpretation goes a lot further than what I anticipated. So back to reading! :) Thanks!
  • What I don't really understand: how do you get from "heavens path" (the way of nature) to: "seek other people for help"

    Is this because the way of nature cannot be evident to a single persons intelligence alone and must thus be attained by seeking knowledge and judgement from other (impartial) minds?
  • PS. Can this "way of nature" also be interpreted as "the right thing to do" ?
  • First of all, I'm not an expert on the text in question.

    The paragraph that begins with "天道 might be taken in the sense of" is not an interpretation, but an attempt to explain the etymology of the word, ie. why, if 天 by itself means "heaven" or "sky", the word 天道 has got the sense "reason" or "natural laws" or "the naturally right way of doing things (ie common sense not laws)" as well.

    Everything else is not my interpretation, but what I found on the net and a quote from one professional translation.

    The author might have used 天道 as a stylistic device, perhaps to sound more picturesque or engaging or literate or not to sound dry (the assciation with "heaven-path" should be obvious to every native speaker), but it is simply one word from a much larger text and I would be careful not to read too much into this.


  • Of course not - but I actually had a much more one dimensional view and your explanation shows that it's about far more then I thought. I was not looking for an expert, just some insight. My research is just from personal interest and your answers helped me see that a lot more research is required. Thank you!

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

In this Discussion