The Way


The Dao at the heart of Daoism is a Chinese word (道) that has several English interpretations. The ‘way’ is probably its most common English definition. Others include ‘path’, ‘key’, ‘method’ and even ‘doctrine’. However, it is generally agreed that ‘Dao’ cannot and should not be defined.

Here is Ursula K. Le Guin’s ‘rendition’ of a saying from the Daode jing (道德經) …

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 mystery.

Mystery of all mysteries!

The door to the hidden.

~ ‘Chapter 1: Taoing’, Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching: A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way, A New English Version by Ursula K. Le Guin, with the collaboration of J. P. Seaton, Professor of Chinese, University of Carolina, Chapel Hill.(Shambhala Publications Inc., 1997)
N.B. I will be referring to the above publication in this blog as well as other translations of the Daode Jing.