Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wen Tzu - Verse 1, Part I

Life is a mystery. We don't understand it; we merely live it! There is something that binds everything together, but what?
There is something, an undifferentiated whole, that was born before heaven and earth. It has only abstract images, no concrete form. It is deep, dark, silent, undefined, we do not hear its voice. Assigning a name to it, I call it the Way.
We can't see or touch it, but it envelops our every breath. It's our constant companion, yet it is as elusive as a shadow.
The Way is infinitely high, unfathomably deep. Enclosing heaven and earth, receiving from the formless, it produces a stream running deep and wide without overflowing. Opaque, it uses gradual clarification by stillness. When it is applied, it is infinite and has no day or night, yet when it is represented, it does not even fill the hand.
I want to know it intimately and hold it close to my bosom. But where is it? How do I connect with the unseen?
It is restrained but can expand, it is dark but can illumine, it is flexible but can be firm. It absorbs the negative and emits the positive, thus displaying the lights of the sun, moon, and stars.
I only know its manifestations. I can't seem to wrap my brain around its vastness; but I intuitively understand its universality.
Mountains are high because of it, oceans are deep because of it, animals run because of it, birds fly because of it. Unicorns roam because of it, phoenixes soar because of it, the stars run their courses because of it.
I cannot rationally grasp its essence, but its spirit dances in my imagination. I reach out and it embraces me like a lover.
It secures survival by means of destruction, secures nobility by means of lowliness, and secures advancement by means of retirement.
I am in awe.

All selections from verse 1 of Wen-tzu: Understanding the Mysteries. This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.


  1. It's been a while since I bought a book. This is now a serious contender for my scant dollars.

    These are Taoist themes but with a je ne sais qua

  2. you know i think i was a taoist even when i was a christian. although i believed in the christian god and the christian rules, i would often go out into nature and just be. i would call it "communing with God" but later identified it simply as "spirit". now i simply don't identify it at all.


Comments are unmoderated, so you can write whatever you want.