Tao Te Ching : verse number 1
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.

Taoism is a philosophy or religion from ancient China attributed as being started by Lao Tsu and his followers. Whether or not Lao Tsu actually did start it, of course, does not matter.
Lao Tsu, an older contemporary of Confucius, was keeper of the imperial archives at Loyang in the province of Honan in the sixth century B.C. The essence of his teachings is contained in the 81 chapters of the TAO TE CHING, which legend says he was persuaded to write before he died.
Taoism is a study of the natural law of things, of Virtue and of strength. It is esoteric. Although it says above that the "essence" of Tao is "contained" in this book, that is really not so. Tao cannot be described in a book, because Tao cannot be described.
It is for one to experience reading this book, and trying to perceive the meanings that words dance around. Words can express, but cannot describe directly. One learns to know the mother through her children.
Tao is not about knowledge. It is not about ignorance. It is about what lies between.
I myself have had thoughts come to me from this book, and then realized that they were never explicitly stated, but come from a more "whole" kind of understanding. Indeed, to understand originally meant "to stand under" - and it is this kind of "understanding" that one should seek in Taoism. Stand before the Tao and there is no beginning; follow it and there is no end.


  • Tao Te Ching (by Lao Tsu) : Translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English - 1972
    (Verse 1 above is from this translation.)
  • The Tao of Power - A New Translation of Tao Te Ching by R. L. Wing - 1986
  • Hua Hu Ching - The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu by Brian Walker - 1992
  • Musings of a Chinese Mystic - Translation by Lionel Giles - 18??
  • And many other books on Taoism ...

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