Tao Te Ching: 1st Verse

Posted: February 22, 2010 in Philosophy, Religion, Tao Te Ching, Taoism, Theology, Yin Yang
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In my theological studies, I have come across two specific religions which I relate to most; Taoism and Buddhism. Buddhism does not have one main scripture. There are many different schools of thought. I have always wanted to read some of their oldest texts, but I have come up empty trying to find them. Taoism on the other hand does have a central text called the Tao Te Ching. The Tao Te Ching was written by Lao-tzu around the sixth century BC. This scripture predates Christianity! The only book to be translated more times than the Tao Te Ching is the Bible. I have been lucky enough to read several different translations of the Tao Te Ching.

Within the 81 verses of the Tao Te Ching you find a way of life; trumping all other religious scriptures I have followed. The verses are written in almost a poetry form, for beginners it may be difficult to translate this was certainly true in my case. The concepts were over my head. I was not listening to it I was reading it. There are three forms of Taoism; Philosophical Taoism, Religious Taoism, and Folk Taoism.  My belief system falls under Philosophical Taoism, although I still believe in the existence of the Tao. The first verse best describes my conundrum behind trying to name and know the Tao. I was first turned onto Taoism by the book “The Tao of Pooh” by Benjamin Hoff, ten years ago. This simple little book intrigued me to learn more.

1st Verse

           The Tao that can be told, is not the eternal Tao.

The name that can be named; is not the eternal name.

The Tao is both named and nameless

As nameless it is the origin of all things;

as named it is the Mother of 10,000 things.

Ever desireless, one can see the mystery;

ever desiring, one sees only the manifestations.

And the mystery itself is the doorway

to all understanding.


Tao translated means “The Way,” in the first verse Lao-Tzu explains; the Tao encompasses everything in the known and unknown universe. The Tao flows in and out of everything. The concept of trying to describe the Tao is not the eternal Tao; the Tao is both named and nameless. Trying to see, or understand the Tao you will only see the outer world. To open the doorway you need to first desire to see the Tao. You then need to let go and become desireless to see the mystery. Letting go is key too much of the Taoist teachings. We need to just allow things to work out in divine order.

Taoism is about paradoxical thinking; the famous Taoist symbol is the Yin Yang. The concept of duality is difficult for many people in our culture because we see things as black or white, right or wrong, the Tao opens up a grey area in everything. The Buddhist believes that desiring is negative, where Taoism thinks otherwise. You may desire to find true love, when you push the boundaries of desiring true love may never come. If you just allow then true love will find you, just let be…be. Stop trying so hard to change this or that, let the desire for change transform into allowing the change to come.

My difficulty with Taoism is I try to define the Tao. In this verse it teaches us to stop trying to define everything. The Tao is named and nameless. Even if I were to find a way to define the Tao it is not the true Tao. The Tao is an incomprehensible realm where everything comes from. I grew up exposed to Christianity where God is defined and portrayed as a being with arms, legs, and conscience thought. It is hard to imagine something which is unimaginable. This requires a massive leap in faith, and I am bitter towards faith. Lao-tzu says if I let go so hard of trying to define and see it then I will.

“Let the world unfold without always attempting to figure it all out”

Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

“Change Your Thoughts-Change Your Life Living the Wisdom of the Tao.


  1. […] Originally posted here: Tao Te Ching: 1st Verse […]

  2. […] First verse of the Tao te Ching: Highly relevant to concept of surrender (The Philosophy of Me) […]

  3. Darla Gregg says:

    Sometimes Google goes above and beyond. I googled: First verse of the Tao Te Ching and got this. What a wonderful surprise! Your words and thoughts are wonderful! Very helpful! Thanks so much.

  4. john says:

    If the people of the world could live by the teaching of wayne dyer, the sun would never stop shining.

  5. […] First verse of the Tao te Ching: Highly relevant to concept of surrender (The Philosophy of Me) […]

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