Tao Te Ching: Verse 14

Posted: September 2, 2010 in Faith, Lao-tzu, Opinion, Philosophy, Poems, Poetry, Religion, Spirituality, Tao, Tao Te Ching, Taoism, Theology, Thoughts, Yin Yang
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That which cannot be seen is called invisible.

That which cannot be heard is called inaudible.

That which cannot be held is called intangible.

These three cannot be defined;

therefore, they are merged as one.


Each of these three is subtle for description.

By intuition you can see it,

hear it,

and feel it.

Then the unseen,


and untouched

are present as one.


Its rising brings no dawn,

its setting no darkness;

it goes on and on, unnamable,

returning into nothingness


Approach it and there is no beginning;

follow it and there is no end.

You cannot know it, but you can be it,

at ease in your own life.


Discovering how things have always been

brings one into harmony with the Way.


I have had some trouble with this verse. I have been going over this verse day in and day out since I wrote about verse 13. This verse is asking me to have faith; for me this is very difficult. I have a huge issue with the invisible, inaudible and intangible. If I can not prove something with my own eyes or experiences I tend to not have faith in its existence. The exception to this rule is scientific facts. I have been meditating and pondering trying to overcome my concept of faith, and what the Tao actually means to me. I keep coming to a description of one of my friends’ belief system, which sounds very similar to the Way.

My friend Dans belief system is his own understanding of what is. He does not believe in evil, and feels science plays a huge role in religion, and in fact proves the existence of God. The one aspect of his faith is what happens to you when you die. He believes at death your essence leaves your body and flies faster than the speed of light into the center of the universe, which he describes as heaven. It is in this heaven you meet with your spirit guide and decide what kind of life you want to live, and when you are ready you head off back to another planet into another life. This is the aspect I hold onto most in my attempted understanding of the Tao.  

I think what verse 14, and other verses Lao-tzu explains to us that trying to define the Tao is futile. Trying to hold the Tao in your hand is fruitless; it is having faith that the Tao is and has always been. I run into an issue in trying to think about what the Tao even is. Is the Tao a God, as compared to the Christian religion? I do not think so. I do not look at the Tao as a man sitting on a throne. I view the Tao as an enormous source of energy capable of taking and brining life into this universe. I think the Tao just is, and allows what be be. I do not think the Tao plays favorites granting prayers to those in need. I believe the Tao provides us everything we need at that moment in time regardless of if we understand. I think the Tao is capable of thought, but maybe not our concept of thought. This ultimately is my belief and faith in Taoism. I am sure I will need to continue to go back to this verse, until it becomes a part of me. I do know this verse is beautifully written and fills me with hope, and eases my worries about what happens to us after we pass.

The 14th verse teaches us the Tao has always been. This means the Tao was even prior to the Big Bang. The Tao like the universe has no beginning and no end. The Tao is the Alpha and Omega. I have grown closer and closer into actually having real faith into this concept; for the first time in 15 years I actually have faith in something. This faith is a small seed, but the seed has been planted and in time its roots will grow stronger and stronger brining me closer the understanding of the Way. I have reached a point where I have almost stopped trying to define the Tao, and just allow it to be.

“Stay in a persistent state of awareness of the eternal principle that animates all of life. By seeing the unfolding of God in everyone you encounter and in all of your identification with your ego based world, you’ll come to be more like Him, and less like that which has tarnished your link to Him.”

 Dr. Wayne W. Dyer “Living the Wisdom of the Tao.”   

I cannot know the Tao as it is named, but I can be it. The more time I spend trying to “be” the Tao the greater sense of peace I have. I trust the more and more I study and meditate on the Tao Te Ching the greater my faith will become.

  1. johanna says:

    Many times because we have no reference for who or what God is, we internalize our image of who God is through our experiences with our parents. Think about that. Who pointed out all of your faults and failures, failed to forgive, judged with out mercy?

    Now, you can re-learn who God is by observing Him in your children. God gave each of us innocence, a child like trust and faith, love without bounds. The way your children love you no matter what is just a glimpse of how much God loves you! By seeing God in your children, you will see who he wants you to be. God calls us all to become like little children. Watch them and learn.

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      I would like to ask you a theological question. You stated before Taoism has many things in common with the Bible, which I have found so far to be true. Since you are a Christian and I am a Toaist will I be denied a place in heaven? I may write a post about that.

  2. My take on Verse 14 is a lot less complex than yours. Tao is the mystery of life, those things that we can never understand.

  3. johanna says:

    Tim, you will not be denied a place in Heaven. You are culpable only for what you know to be true. God sees who you are, what your intentions are and where you are. We deserve nothing, yet in His mercy we will be saved.

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      You know if you ask that question to different believers which is true, and many of them will come back with yes I will go to hell for not believing. I think most of them are born again christians

  4. johanna says:

    Well, I’m not a born again Christian and If you asked any Catholic priest, he’d give you the same answer I did.

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      That is strange. In all my conversations with Christians you are only the second person to make that comment. I have heard you can sit in limbo or purgatory until you accept Jesus as your lord and savior

  5. johanna says:

    Well, now you’re going to make me explain purgatory!? Yes, each us must attone for our sins. God forgives the sin but we must still cleanse our souls. For example, if your kid steals something, you would forgive him but he would still have to make up for stealing by returning the item etc… When we die, we are shown our entire life. We will see how what we have done or what we have failed to do has affected others. (In both positive and negative ways) We are then free to choose where we should go. Heaven, Hell or Purgatory. In the presence of God, we are unable to lie. We would not ever choose to enter into the divine presence of God unless our souls were prepared to meet Him face to face. So we choose to suffer joyfully in purgatory until every last stain of human sin is removed from our souls. And we do suffer joyfully because we are assured a place in Heaven. We know we will be united with God forever. It is a suffering with Hope. (Unlike the suffering those in Hell experience) In order to go to Hell, one must renounce God, much as the Devil did when he was banished from Heaven.

  6. johanna says:

    You can’t renounce God if you don’t believe He exists.

  7. johanna says:

    Regardless of what you write, God knows what is in your heart.

    I personally think you believe in God and may learn to love God if you’d let yourself. You hate God and blame him for all the ills in your life like a teenager blames his parents for all that is wrong with him.

    Be angry at those who have injured you, forgive them, and move on. Love your life, not asking why all the time but just doing.

    Just live, accept what you have been given and love. God is love and I know you believe in love. It isn’t really as complicated as the Devil would have you believe.

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      I think there is a part of me that wants to believe. In my personal experiencing and my skeptic nature I simply cannot believe in the existance of an entity as described in the Bible. I can however have faith in the Tao because logically I can believe in an entity described in the Tao Te Ching. I have always felt if God existed he would not denie me a seat in heaven just as he would not deny a seat in heaven to the Dali Lama.

  8. johanna says:

    Tim, I know Taoists believe in one unified source of all creation. Isn’t the source of creation God? The same God we both believe in? Why can’t you be a Taoist and believe in God? Taoists are not atheists. In my understanding, Taoism is a way or a path to the pure source of creation. In my mind, it is an alternate path to God. I believe the Catholic Church is my aide or path to God. You believe the Tao is your path to God. Am I right?

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      I believe we are all on the same journey to know and discover God we just all take different paths. Taosim believes in one main source the Tao which everything originates from, and the Tao flows through everything. I suppose you could call the Tao a God although I have trouble believing even this. In one of the earlier verses of the Tao Te Ching it states the Tao is the mother of God. I know everyone of us has a void inside of us which can only be filled by God or some form of him.

  9. Turtle says:

    What the 14th verse means to me is this,
    all previous time has lead to this moment,
    it isn’t a theory it’s a fact,
    carbon based life in the recycle mode forever. It’s the way of the Tao now add
    intuition and feel it,see it know it.
    All other time frames don’t actually exist just now. That means time has no meaning
    other than your boss says be here at 8:00
    thats all.

    • Turtle,
      Welcome to the community. Thank you for the added insight into the 14th verse. I am still a young student when it comes to the Tao, and it is helpful to find readers who are able to point me in the right direction.

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