Simple Way

copyright the Trustees of The British Museum

The Mystery of Tao

The Tao which can be expressed in words is not the All-embracing and Immutable Tao; the Name which can be uttered is not the Ever-applicable Name.

Without a name, It is the Beginning of Heaven and Earth; conceived of as having a name, It is the Progenitrix of all things.

He alone who is free from earthly passions can perceive the deep mystery of the Unmanifested One: he who is possessed by desires can only behold the Manifest's outward form.

These two, the Manifest and the Unmanifest, although differing in name, in essence are identical. This sameness is the mystery, the deep within the deep, the door of many mysteries.

Commentary -    Heaven and Earth, in the Taoist System, are called Yang and Yin; both are subjective principles, corresponding to Uranus and Gaia in Orphic Theogony. They constitute Duality in its archetypal and unmanifest aspect. The Progenitrix (Tao conceived as having a name) is the Great World Mother, Who is also Providence and Divine Wisdom.


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The Shrine of Wisdom 1924, Second Edition 1941, Third Edition 1951, Fourth Edition 1974