Chapter One of Daodejing

Updated: May 29

Dao is both mysterious and erotic. Within its darkness upon darkness is the unifying force that attracts and relates everything to everything else.

Chinese Text (Simplified)


道 可 道, 非常道

dào kě dào, fēi cháng dào。


名可名, 非常名

míng kě míng,fēi cháng míng。


无名, 天地之始

wú míng, tiān dì zhī shǐ;


有 名, 万物之母

yǒu míng, wàn wù zhī mǔ。


故常无欲以观其妙

gù cháng wú yù yǐ guān qí miào;


常有欲以观其徼

cháng yǒu yù yǐ guān qí jiào。


此两者, 同出而异名

cǐ liǎng zhě,tong chū ér yì míng,


同谓之玄。

tóng wèi zhī xuán 。


玄之又玄, 众妙之门

xuán zhī yòu xuán, zhòng miào zhī mén。


Translation by Ian Felton


The path that is walked is not the eternal path.

The name that is used is not the eternal name.


Before Dao had a name, it started the universe.

Afterward, it gave birth to everything in it.


Therefore, empty of desire, observe its wonders.

Full of desire, observe only its fringes.


These two arose together but have have different names.

Spoken of as one, they're called The Mystery.

Where the darkness is darkest, lies the doorway of every type of wonderful thing.


Commentary


The darkness is darkest inside ourselves. When we are caught up in the external world, we avoid examining the nature of our selves and our unconscious. Inside of ourselves is the mystery. Breaking through the barriers to our own infinitive creativity opens the door to the wonders of this life.


Our lives are an expression of Dao. But beyond our experience and the limitations of language, there are many more realms. We are Dao, not the limitations bound up in our names and language.


Dao expresses itself through a human nervous system. It also expresses itself through the nervous systems and structures of the entire ecosystem. We are still related to everything else. It's this interpenetration where we see the erotic nature of Dao. Species arise from other species. Species survive by taking in and consuming other species. Dao feeds on itself and transforms itself in a continual act of infinite creativity.


Because the possible number of permutations that the human mind's neural network can produce is basically infinite, as far as we know, we are the most creative of Dao's manifestations. As a result, we have more capacity to understand more of the mystery. Are we willing to go as deep into the darkness as we can or should we just conform to superficial desires and live in that illusion of security?


However, our understanding and complexity is also a trap. We have become blinded by our reasoning and precise language that aims to control that which is uncontrollable. The more we refine our understanding and language, the more we cover up Dao and live in superficialities.


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