A way can be a guide, but not a fixed path;
names can be given, but not permanent labels.
Nonbeing is called the beginning of heaven and earth;
being is called the mother of all things.
Always passionless, thereby observe the subtle;
ever intent, thereby observe the apparent.
These two come from the same source but differ in name;
both are considered mysteries.
The mystery of mysteries
is the gateway of marvels.

– Thomas Cleary

 

The way that becomes a way
is not the Immortal Way
the name that becomes a name
is not the Immortal Name
no-name is the maiden of Heaven and Earth
name is the mother of all things
thus in innocence we see the beginning
in passion we see the end
two different names
for one and the same
the one we call dark
the dark beyond dark
the door to all beginnings

– Red Pine

 

The Way as “way” bespeaks no common lasting Way,
The name as “name” no common lasting name.
Absent is the name for sky and land’s first life,
Present for the mother of all ten thousand things.
Desire ever-absent:
Behold the seed germs of all things;
Desire ever-present:
Behold their infinite course.
Forth together come the two
As one and the same
But differ in name.
As one, a dark recess
That probed recedes
Past that portal whence
The milling seed germs teems.

– Moss Roberts

 

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One thought on “Tao Te Ching #1: “A way can be a guide, but not a fixed path”

  1. Here is the beginning!
    Gia-fu Feng and Jane English have:

    The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
    The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
    The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
    The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
    Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
    Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
    These two spring from the same source but differ in name;
    this appears as darkness.
    Darkness within darkness.
    The gate to all mystery.

    “The ten thousand things” is a repeated theme in the Tao Te Ching.
    The one that is the source of the two is translatable into both Socratic and Biblical terms, overcoming the assumption of a fundamental East-West contrast. My friend had a giant white cat named “The Nameless One!”

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