“Tao Teh Ching: Chapter 14” by Lao Tzu


Look at it but you cannot see it!
Its name is Formless.

Listen to it but you cannot hear it!
Its name is Soundless.

Grasp it but you cannot get it!
Its name is Incorporeal.

These three attributes are unfathomable;
Therefore they fuse into one.

Its upper side is not bright:
Its under side not dim.
Continually the Unnameable moves on,
Until it returns beyond the realm of things.
We call it the formless Form, the imageless Image.
We call it the indefinable and unimaginable.

Confront it and you do not see its face!
Follow it and you do not see its back!
Yet, equipped with this timeless Tao,
You can harness present realities.

To know the origins is initiation into the Tao.

I found this passage to be fairly simple, but still rich and beautiful. Here, Lao Tzu uses paradoxical phrases to describe the ineffable divine source. By referring to the divine as a “formless Form” and an “imageless Image,” a space is created that cannot be represented through words, because it exists beyond our capacity for comprehension. This is the divine source and the Eternal Tao.

But although we with our finite minds can never fully grasp that which is infinite and eternal, we should still endeavor to contemplate it, for by doing so we catch impressions of our divine origin and gain wisdom. This wisdom helps us navigate the challenging pathways of our existence.



Filed under Literature, Spiritual

6 responses to ““Tao Teh Ching: Chapter 14” by Lao Tzu

  1. Alex Hurst

    My mom used to be a huge study of the I Ching. She would divine our family’s fortunes with three old coins, and we would read the lines and hexagrams, letting them guide our decisions.

    • Way cool! I have an I Ching kit, but never became proficient at it.

      • Alex Hurst

        It’s pretty interesting. Especially when you start understanding changing lines, where the heart of “fate” come in. It’s a lot like Tarot, I guess, except you use hexagrams instead of cards.

  2. I think this book was the entry point for my realizing so many things that later would become increasingly developed, as I had more time to live and learn. It is brilliant in the way it deals with the nomenclature issue. Not sure if you live near a good library, but this source book might be of interest. Too expensive to buy, IMO. It’s a classic and should be in most medium to larger libraries.