The appearance of great virtue
Follows only the Tao
The Tao, as a thing
Seems indistinct, seems unclear
So unclear, so indistinct
Within it there is image
So indistinct, so unclear
Within it there is substance
So deep, so profound
Within it there is essence
Its essence is supremely real
Within it there is faith
From ancient times to the present
Its name never departs
To observe the source of all things
How do I know the nature of the source?
The Tao is the infinite field of limitless potential. Therefore, the manifestation of inherent power and great virtue of all things can only follow the Tao and come from the Tao.
If we were to regard the Tao as a "thing," it would be indistinct and unclear. The Tao embodies the mystery and the unknown. No matter how close we get to it, it will remain forever beyond complete comprehension. It will always be one step beyond total clarity.
Within this indistinct and unclear Tao, there is the image of the universe. The stars, the galaxies - the cosmos are contained within the Tao.
The Tao is the ultimate source of everything. Although it will always be vague and elusive, it embodies all the potentialities of the physical world. Material things come out of this void, seemingly out of nowhere.
The Tao has unlimited depth, and it is within this depth that we find the essence of life. The principle and driving force of this essence are undeniable. When we examine this essence, we have no choice but to believe that the Tao exists and is quite real.
This is why the Name - the Tao, the great virtue, and power inherent in all things - have never gone away from antiquity to modern times. It is not a passing fad or temporary fixation; it is the enduring and eternal truth.
We can use this truth to observe and understand the universal source of all Creation. So if people were to ask me how I can know anything about the nature of this mystical source, I would simply let them know this is it.
We may never be able to see it with perfect clarity; we may never have complete comprehension of it. Nevertheless, its existence, function and power are absolutely, positively beyond doubt. It is the Tao.
Life, as we know it, is all based on DNA. In fact, one can even say that it is the genes that perpetuate themselves generation after generation. They surround themselves with sophisticated and complex cellular mechanisms in order to enable this perpetuation.
But, as science writer Bill Bryson points out, DNA is not in itself alive. So at the very core of the phenomenon known as life, we come up against this interesting puzzle, a profound paradox: the fundamental basis of life is not itself a living thing. How can this be? How can it work?
Study this issue long and hard enough, and one may come to a startling realization. We are in fact not biological machines that have learned how to think. Instead, we are pure consciousness that has learned how to manifest in the physical universe through the workings of life. There is something about this metaphysical consciousness that simply wants to be, and it drives the process of life, transforming the inorganic to organic in order to enable its manifestations.
This is genesis. It is not completely understood and perhaps it never will be. It is indistinct and unclear, and yet within it is the seed of infinite life. Our very existence is proof positive of its function and power. It is the Tao.
Das Tao Te King von Derek Lin
As i read the Tap Te Ching (or the Cloud of Unknowing) i am tempted to remove all qualifying words from terms like "unclear," "not understood" "not know" and "mystery."