This blog is an interpretation of the Tao te Ching "Tao Virtue Book" which is attributed to Laozi "Lao Tze" a Chinese philosopher who lived circa 600 b.c.

Please remember always that this is the description of the Tao and not the experience of the living Tao. Hopefully, this blog will not serve as analysis or commentary but as a window into the Tao. You are encouraged to disagree with this interpretation, involve yourself in self-study, and ultimately leave all concepts behind and so experience the living Tao.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Tao te Ching Chapter 32: The Nature of the Tao

Tao in its eternal aspect is unnamable.

Its simplicity appears insignificant, but the whole world cannot control it. If princes and kings employ it every one of themselves will pay willing homage. Heaven and Earth by it are harmoniously combined and drop sweet dew. People will have no need of rulers, because of themselves they will be righteous.

As soon as Dao expresses itself in orderly creation then it becomes comprehensible. When one recognizes the presence of Dao he understands where to stop. Knowing where to stop he is free from danger.

To illustrate the nature of Dao's place in the universe: Dao is like the brooks and streams in their relation to the great rivers and the ocean.

Tao te Ching Chapter 32


It is sometimes difficult to explain to western thinkers that you are describing something that cannot be grasped by thought.  In chapter 1 of the Tao te Ching, the author tells us that the originating force of the universe has no name or face.  Perhaps it is easiest to think about it like this; The Tao is the experience of the universe happening, thoughts and words are a way of describing the universe happening.   Wanting now to talk directly about the Tao again, the author begins this chapter with a reminder that that which we are describing is the unnamed force behind all things.

The second stanza makes several statements.  I says that it is easy to overlook the power of the Tao but those who see its use willingly offer loyalty to it.  The third sentence can be taken to mean the "sweet" or perhaps "goodness" fall naturally from it.  The final sentence observes that those who follow Dao need no rulers since they themselves will be of good heart and honest nature.

The third stanza says that when the Dao begins to take form, it becomes understandable to the human mind.  Seeing the Dao behind all things gives one insight into when to stop acting, thus protecting them from danger.

The third stanza may seem to say that the Dao is like brooks and streams, smaller than rivers, but probably should be taken to mean, comes before.  If there were not brooks and streams, there would be no rivers and oceans.  Although we cannot see the stream when we look at the river, we know it must be there.
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