Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Taoism: Chpt 1: Taoing

Note: Ten thousand is a sacred number to the Chinese. The Ten Thousand things can mean everything, but can include the sacred and celestial.


The way you can go
isn't the real way.
The name you can say
isn't the real name.

Heaven and Earth
begin in the unnamed:
name's the mother
of the ten thousand things.

So the unwanting soul
sees what's hidden,
and the ever-wanting soul
sees only what it wants.

Two things, one origin,
but different in name,
whose identity is in mystery.
Mystery of all mysteries!
The door to the hidden.

Le Guin states that a perfect translation of this poem from Chinese to English is perfectly impossible. This poem supposedly contains the whole book as an opener and sets up the rest of the Tao Te Ching.

The part that I find important in this is the passage "So the unwanting soul.... only what it wants". It highlights how we can see things when we separate ourselves from an issue. Someone who is blinded by their desires or beliefs cannot see what doesn't go along with those desires or beliefs. The Taoist tries to see what 'is' rather than what he or she wants to see.

In the passage "The way you can go.... isn't the real name" it can be produced into a sociological point about how we are offered a way through life that is the one we are supposed to follow, and then there's the spiritual way that you can go which is ultimately more satisfying and true to yourself.

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