Tao Te Ching #25: “Something undifferentiated was born before heaven and earth”

Something undifferentiated was born before heaven and earth;
still and silent, standing alone and unchanging,
going through cycles unending,
able to be mother to the world.
I do not know its name;
I label it the Way.
Imposing on it a great name,
I call it Great.
Greatness means it goes;
going means reaching afar;
reaching afar means return.
Therefore the Way is great,
heaven is great,
earth is great,
and kingship is also great.
Among domains are four greats,
of which kingship is one.
Humanity emulates earth,
earth emulates heaven,
heaven emulates the Way,
the Way emulates Nature.

– Thomas Cleary


Imagine a nebulous thing
here before Heaven and Earth
subtle and elusive
dwelling apart and unconstrained
it could be the mother of us all
not knowing its name
I call it the Tao
forced to describe it
I describe it as great
great means ever-flowing
ever-flowing means far-reaching
far-reaching means returning
the Tao is great
Heaven is great
Earth is great
the ruler is also great
the realm contains Four Greats
of which the ruler is but one
Humankind imitates Earth
Earth imitates Heaven
Heaven imitates the Tao
and the Tao imitates itself

– Red Pine


Manifesting material in form unshaped,
Born before heaven and earth themselves,
Unseen, unheard, above, apart,
Standing alone ever true to itself,
Swinging in cycles that never fail,
Mother of heaven and earth, it seems,
But I know not how to give it names.
Pressed, I shall dub it the moving Way,
OR call it by name the all-supreme,
All-supreme and passing-beyond,
Passing-beyond and reaching-far,
Reaching-far and reverting-back,
Indeed the Way is all-supreme,
And heaven too, and earth, and man—
The four things in this world supreme,
And among them one is man,
Who is bound to follow the rule of earth,
As earth must follow heaven’s rule,
And heaven the rule of the Way itself;
And the moving Way is following
The self-momentum of all becoming.

– Moss Roberts