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    The Way of Tao, Volume 1



    The Way of Tao, Volume 1



    CHAPTER 1


    The eternal, unchanging tao
    19 June 1971 pm in Immortal Study Circle


    THE ABSOLUTE TAO
    THE TAO THAT CAN BE TRODDEN IS NOT THE ENDURING
    AND UNCHANGING TAO. THE NAME THAT CAN BE NAMED
    IS NOT THE ENDURING AND UNCHANGING NAME.


    Those who have known, not by words, not by scriptures but by actually living life, from amongst
    those very few, Lao Tzu is one. And from amongst those yet fewer persons, who having known,
    have ceaselessly endeavoured to reveal what they have known, Lao Tzu is one. But the very first
    experience of those enlightened ones, who have tried to express what they have known is, that:
    whatever is expressible is not Truth. That which can assume form, invariably loses its spiritual
    power (of the Formless).

    Now if someone wishes to make a picture of the sky, this can never be. Whatever picture is made, it
    will not be of the sky, for space is that which embodies everything. A picture cannot contain anything;

    it, in itself is surrounded by space. So Truth expressed in words, will be like the skies depicted in a
    picture. No bird can fly in the sky of a picture, no sun comes out in the morning or stars at night.
    It is dead for all purposes and the sky only in name. The sky cannot be in a picture. The greatest
    difficulty that a person encounters when he sets forth to express Truth is, that no sooner Truth is
    converted into words, it becomes Un-Truth. It becomes just what it is not. Then what was to be
    conveyed, remains unsaid; and what was not to be conveyed, is given voice. Lao Tzu starts his very
    first line with this statement.

    Tao is a peerless word. Try to understand its full meaning so we can proceed with ease. There are
    many meanings of Tao. The deeper a thing becomes, the more meanings it develops; and when a
    thing becomes multi-dimensional, it is but natural that it becomes more intricate. One interpretation
    of Tao is: ”The Way.” But, all paths are bound and fixed! What sort of a path is Tao? It is like the path
    that a bird makes; in the skies as it flies – the path is formed but it is not fixed. All other paths leave
    their marks behind, which makes it easy for others to follow. Tao is a path like the bird makes in
    the skies – there are no footprints left behind for the convenience of others to follow. If we visualize
    a path that is unconstructed, a path where there are no footprints, a path that no other person can
    create for you – you travel and as you travel the path is formed – then we can interpret Tao as: ’The
    Way’. But such a path we see nowhere! Therefore, is it proper to call Tao – ’The Way’?

    This however, is one dimension of Tao. Now let us take another meaning of the Path. A path is that
    which takes us to a destination. A path is that which joins us to the destination. But Tao is not such
    a path. When we walk along a road and reach the destination, both the road and the destination
    are connected to each other. In fact the destination is the last end of the road and the road is the
    beginning of the destination. Therefore, the path and the goal are not two different things – they are
    joined allied to one another. The road cannot be without a destination, nor can the destination be
    without a road. But Tao is a path that is tied to no destination. When a destination is connected with
    a path, the length of the journey is known. So the traveller knows the distance to the destination. But
    Tao is such a path where the traveller attains his destination at the very place he stands! Therefore,
    Tao cannot be likened to the general concept of a path. It is a path where we attain the destination
    from the very place we stand upon. It can also be that we travel for millions of births and not attain
    it. Invariably then, Tao is a different kind of a path. So one meaning of Tao is ’The Path’ but in a very
    intrinsic sense – and with very many conditions.

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