Sunday, January 30, 2011

Line by Line - Verse 21, Line 4

Eluding touch, eluding sight,
There are their semblances, all right.

~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

Oh, it is elusive and intangible, and yet within is form.
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

So indistinct, so unclear
Within it there is substance

~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

Images lead to the creation of objects.
~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
Except for what goes on between our ears, most of the rest of our lives are spent relating to tangible things and beings. Wherever you are standing or sitting right now, as you look around, you are surrounded by substance: people, animals, plants, technology, paper, buildings, etc.

Yet, IF there was a beginning of time, all of this substance sprang from nothing, something formless. It boggles the human mind. It seems to be contradictory. Nothing -- everything.

Sort of like pulling a rabbit out of an empty hat!

To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.


  1. Some would contend, myself among them (at times anyways), that even the tangible things are actually only "between our ears." The philosophy of Idealism, you know, George Berkeley and such.

    For example, we experience the sensation of solidity, but never the table we're pounding. It's splitting hairs, but true. And, experience and perception, where do these take place? In the mind. And where is the mind, where is consciousness? Everywhere and nowhere.

    I think this is the same mystery you refer to in this post. Pulling a rabbit out of an empty hat, yet the hat isn't even really there, and neither is the rabbit!

    Tao, neither material nor spiritual, it is beyond understanding.


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