反者道之动 is proposed by Lao Zi over 2500 years ago. It cannot be translated as a whole in my opinion because you lose the meaning in full if you do. But word by word translation can be helpful, because then you can try to understand the meaning of the sentence in a more correct way.
反：the opposite. the reversed. 者：the thing, the person, that one. 道：the law, the causes, the whys of things. 之：of . 动：tendency, moves, acts, state of action.
If you try to combine the word translation into English, then it is:
The opposite of the thing is the state of action of the law of things.
Lao Zi is in a period of time when he is consulted by mostly political figures and kings. So this line would serve very well to the king if the king is facing a managerial problem of his country. There will be always a force to against another force and that’s the law, otherwise, the intial force won’t be felt as a force from the beginning. That’s whey 动 is described as the state of 道. And 道 is a very very powerful word in Chinese people’s root of heart. They may be brought upon all kinds of Gods from all over the world, but why are Chinese people still free of religion? One reason is that they have a better religion-type of belief system in place already which is this: 道.
This is really not my idea and I don’t think that I can never come up with this idea but I felt I agree with it. Let’s look at all the meanings of this word. You must know that Chinese word can have many many meanings and sometimes they are not even relavent as it appears. 道 could mean road (道路), a line(道子), reason(道理), law of nature(问道). It would be a unit like one 道 of light.
In China, the law has never been very believing to people. But this, 道, or 道理, has be widely accepted as the thing no one would deny that everyone should obey. It means “reason” in English if you translate “道理”. But you see, that’s the different stuff in Chinese language. The term “道理” is combined by “道” and “理”. So each word of these two somehow puts a weight onto the total meaning of the term. That’s why I said that it’s deeply rooted in Chinese’s mind, almost inescapable.
If a priest comes to China, Chinese call what he does “布道”. 布 means spreading. See? So don’t think that Chinese has no religion or not Chinese people are not religious. China has another thing called “道”. It’s the “Dao” people that you might have heard. Which is the branch Lao Zi created. 道 is way older than Lao Zi. You might want to know about this book “易经” if you really want to dig more about “道”. Confucious has said when he was 40s that he hopes to have seen “易经” earlier, then he would have had made fewer mistakes in his life.
I opened the “易经” couple of times, the language is too ancient for me. After the first line, I quit. The first line is kinda cool. “乾, 元贞利亨”. I am not going to start translating. Truth is, I don ‘t know how. Each word has its meaning of goodness. And tell you one thing. The first word has the meaning of male, sky, great, big, open.