tao te ching
translated by Stephen Mitchell
The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.
The unnamable is the externally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.
Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.
Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.
Thoughts on chapter one.
From the very first line we are being reminded that we must go beyond the labels we know as words. To understand the Tao (the Way) we must embody it using the words as symbols by garnishing understanding on a deeper level of being. For me, the Way means living in accordance with our true nature, who we really are. It is moving from thought (philosophy) beyond doing (experience) to being (knowing). Knowing can never truly be worded, words can only allude that which is wordless.
Freedom from desire, to me, expresses the antidote to suffering. The discriminating mind, the mind that lives by good and bad identifies itself by clinging to that which it desires and averting that which is not what is desired. This constantly swinging pendulum of likes and dislikes seems to be the root of all suffering. So how to do we begin to if not end our suffering at least begin to recognize it? Learning to accept the "isness"of our experience with the external world we can see that what is is what is. Then we can begin to have a choice on how we respond to the "goings on" and perhaps begin to cultivate an emotional freedom from reacting to the "stuff" of the reality of a material existence. We don't need all the answers, we can cultivate a spaciousness of being with what is. If from our heart we can truly say, "I don't know" we come closer to realizing the mystery of life and the wonder and miracle of living in a body. We can "know" that not only are we from "source" (or energy or awareness or fill in the blank) but that we are "source".