Tao For Today; Verse 1
Understanding the Tao Te Ching
The Tao Te Ching is a philosophical text written by Lao-tzu, a philosopher and historian, during the time of Confucius. This text, written in two parts, with eighty-one short sections or verses, serves as a philosophical and spiritual guidepost.
The term "Tao" means way or path. In many philosophical works, this term refers to a calling. In the Tao Te Ching, the term Tao refers to a much larger metaphysical principal, a universal oneness, from which all things come, and to which all things return. While "Tao", is a path, and a way, the meaning is much broader, encompassing and mysterious. Tao is a universal flow of energy.
The term "Te" refers to the moral power and virtue associated with one who follows a correct path. In the Tao Te Ching, Te refers more to the virtue one gains by following Tao, the way.
Finally, the term "Ching" refers to the rules or the plan. The Tao Te Ching is a guidebook of rules or suggestions to gain virtue by following a path.
A literal translation would be "Way Virtue Rules."
The perennial wisdom presented within the Tao Te Ching seems mysterious and complex with first reading. Upon further inspection, meaning recedes further, until the text seems convoluted and impossible to understand. Such is the mystery of Tao. Rather than wrestle with literal meaning, absorb the words and let the Tao speak to you.
Tao Te Ching Verse One
The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named is not the eternal name
The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth
The named is the mother of myriad things
Thus, constantly free of desire
One observes its wonders
Constantly filled with desire
One observes its manifestations
These two emerge together but differ in name
The unity is said to be the mystery
Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders
Translated by Derek Lin
Another Translation of Verse One
Tao called Tao is not Tao.
Names can name no lasting name.
Nameless: the origin of heaven and earth.
Naming: the mother of ten thousand things.
Empty of desire, perceive mystery.
Filled with desire, perceive manifestations.
These have the same source, but different names.
Call them both deep-
Deep and again deep:
The gateway to all mystery.
Translated by Stephen Addiss and Stanley Lombardo
What it Means to Me
Trying to name the Tao is not Tao. Allow the mystery to unfold. The names we give to things are not eternal, nor do they define our world.
Nameless is the energy behind heaven and earth, the divine flow of Tao. The flow of energy, life, creation and being has no name.
Named represents the created- the things we have here, the result of the Tao, and the physical manifestation of Tao. We label, judge and compartmentalize all of life in an effort to control and bring order into our world.
Empty yourself of desire, longing, and needing. Perceive the mystery of Tao in everything. Fill yourself with desire to allow Tao to manifest in every facet of your life. Shift your perception away from wanting and toward allowing. Shift from trying to being. Just allow your mind to be.
Instead of judging, labeling and wanting to solve everything today, try to allow life to unfold before you. Allow the flow of Tao to pass through your life without judging. Release your need to control and merge with the flow of energy in your life.
Deep cries out to deep; creation and the creator communicate, exchange energy, and thrive. Without words, without names, the known and the unknown merge. Walking through the gateway to all mystery, experience Tao without trying to label or change it.
Just for today, experience the mystery. Let go of how you think the world should be and experience what is. Don't label or judge. Observe the mystery and let Tao unfold in your life.
Your Thinking Creates Your Reality
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2010 Deborah Reno