Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Reflections on the Tao Te Ching, #1

I found much comfort in high school in the Tao Te Ching, written by Lao Tzu. Now I've been needing some comfort, and the words of philosophy helps so much. I found myself at the bookstore and decided to pick up this book - I have been wanting to do that for years and years. I was reading it quickly and thought I needed to slow down and take in one saying at a time, probably one a day. Sure, it would take awhile, but doesn't the Tao teach patience?

I'll copy down the translation I have (from Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu, translated by Brian Browne Walker, 1995), and then give my own analysis... or just leave it at that. See how I feel!


Tao is beyond words
and beyond understanding.
Words may be used to speak of it,
but they cannot contain it.

Tao existed before words and names,
before heaven and earth,
before the ten thousand things.
It is the unlimited father and mother
of all limited things.

Therefore, to see beyond boundaries
to the subtle heart of things,
dispense with names,
with concepts,
with expectations and ambitions and differences.

Tao and its many manifestations
arise from the same source:
subtle wonder within mysterious darkness.

This is the beginning of all understanding.


To me, Tao is like the spirit that flows throughout the world. It is in the rocks and trees and sky and wind. It is in every single person, whether they recognize it or not. To attempt to grasp Tao is to begin to understand. But you must let go of the conventional way of understanding - go "beyond boundaries" and let go of all you knew. Then we will understand Tao.