Pondering the Tao


The Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal name. ~Tao te Ching #1

Does this ring true within you? I understand it in an ephemeral sort of way, sensing rather than processing. It’s a breeze against my skin, not a geometrical proof.  To me it means that we can’t accurately identify and label the things that give life its greatest value. I see this in that way I see those pictures with a double image. It is a vase, or two faces? Of course by explaining it, I negate it, because I’m striving to define it with this crude tool we call language. I guess that’s what writers are compelled to do.

I remember a poetry class back in that magical time in my early 20s when the world was still fresh. We read The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams.

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.

Do you feel it? Careful now, don’t ruin it with analysis.

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6 Responses to Pondering the Tao

  1. Roxie says:

    My busy monkey brain insists on picking at the tao. Does this come off? What’s under here? But sometimes, even a busy monkey will sit still and just -be.

    Sorry, when it comes to the written word, I want things drawn clearly in broad strokes with brightly colored crayons and musical accompaniment. I have all the subtle depth of a small saucer.

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  2. I’ve always loved that William Carlos Williams poem. And I feel the same…this, and the Tao te Ching, are talking about things that are too big for language. I’m not religious, but it always made sense to me that in Judaism, the name of God cannot be spoken or written; it’s not acceptable to make God small through language. That’s the great limit of language, written or spoken; as soon as we put words to something, we put limits on it; we make it small, to fit inside our minds.

    Great thought-provoking post!

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  3. SusanLS says:

    I’m with Barb. Even if I am religious, and have a master’s degree to prove it, I’m so dang confused. But I do love WCW.

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  4. shelli says:

    I need some of your Tao – how is subbing going?

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  5. Lisa Nowak says:

    Wow, interesting responses.

    Chris, I had a message board friend several years ago who practiced an amalgam of mystic Christianity and Judaism. He never spelled the word God out properly, for the very reason you state. I find it fascinating when the same ideas spring up within differing belief systems.

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