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Back to Read the Tao To Chapter 2

Here's the roof of a Taoist Temple.  It features the Chinese character for "Tao" and two fish.  Fish are popular symbols of awareness since they never close their eyes.

Chapter 1 -What is the Tao?

The "Tao" is too great to be described by the name "Tao".
If it could be named so simply, it would not be the eternal Tao.

Heaven and Earth began from the nameless (Tao),
but the multitudes of things around us were created by names.

We desire to understand the world by giving names to the things we see,
but these things are only the effects of something subtle.

When we see beyond the desire to use names,
we can sense the nameless cause of these effects.

The cause and the effects are aspects of the same, one thing.
They are both mysterious and profound.
At their most mysterious and profound point lies the "Gate of the Great Truth".

Original Chinese and notes


 [Tao Chapter 1]

As with a lot of famous books, the first few lines have become famous.  Often translated as: "The Tao that can be explained with words is not the Tao."

I have left out commas where there is a line break, for neatness, since there was no punctuation in the original.

I have left in the periods and other commas for clarity, although some commas' positions vary from translation to translation.

Check out the first 6 lines.  "Tao" and "Ming" are contrasted  using repetition.  Looking for these kinds of patterns in later chapters can really help understand what is being said


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