Tao Te Ching: Ch. 1 Commentary

Posted by majc in Tao on Nov 11th 2011 Add comment
  1. The Way that can be told is never the Way.
    All its definitions are misleading.

  2. Undefined, it’s full and undivided.
    Any definition makes it separated things.

How is this relevant?

There’s something about human beings. In one way or another, people are and have always been trying to find a definitive way to wrap up what there is and where it’s going, to fix what’s happening in some sort of image or set of ideas. Tao Te Ching In other words, people continuously try to put together a neatly structured understanding of what, here, is indicated by the nonsense syllable – Tao.

Some walk the planet with the idea that they’ve done it, they’ve got it all figured out – that is, captured in a figure. As human beings, part of us seeks this satisfaction of a finished, decided explanation of things which guarantees truth about where we stand and where we’re headed.

With its opening line, the Tao Te Ching informs its audience that intellectual definition is not the goal. Anything tellable – any obtainable definition or image – is the first thing not to expect.

I wonder if there’s a less reassuring way to start a book about the Way than to declare that the Way can’t be told? Yet the apparently contradictory starting point is key. This is not an instruction manual. Nothing comes of whatever this is except in cooperation with a questioning, doubting intelligence. You cannot be told.

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