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.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Understanding the Tao te Ching Chapter 21: Accepting the Unknowable


All the innumerable forms of de [teh] correspond to the norm of Dao, but the nature of the Dao's activity is infinitely abstract and illusive. Illusive and obscure, indeed, but at its heart are forms and types. Vague and illusive, indeed, but at its heart is all being. Unfathomable and obscure, indeed, but at its heart is all spirit, and spirit is reality. At its heart is truth.

From of old its expression is unceasing, it has been present at all beginnings. How do I know that its nature is thus? By this same Dao.

Tao te Ching Chapter 21


This chapter seems to make two statements.  One that the Tao can't be known and two that it is all present.

To understand these statements, perhaps it is useful to compare it to the Buddha's statement on interdependent origination.  The Buddha stated that no thing existed in and of itself.  You for example are composed of the food you eat, the water and thoughts that have been given to you by others.  Your physical form is chosen in part by the gravity of planet Earth.  You, says Buddha, are not so much a single thing as a junction point of an infinite number of other things.  When viewed this way, the origin of any object or person becomes impossible complex and confusing.  The sheer number of forces involved exceeds the human capacity for thought by a thousand fold.  And yet, these things, you and I, planets and stars do move in and out of existence in a endless cycles of boundless creativity.  What is this endless, seamless stream of existence called?  The author calls it Tao. 
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