the Mystery – gateway to the secret of all life

Mystery Within Mystery

These two (the Secret and its manifestations)

Are (in their nature) the same;

They are given different names

When they become manifest.

They may both be called the Cosmic Mystery:

Reaching from the Mystery into the Deeper Mystery

Is the Gate to the Secret of All Life.

excerpt from Tao Te Ching Ch 1, Lao Tzu

(Translated by Lin Yutang)

hsüan = mystery, first cause

chih = (it) becomes

yu = again, ~to a higher degree

hsüan = mysterious, primal

(excerpt from the Tao Te Ching, Ch 1)

Many say that Chapter One of Lao Tzu’s “Tao Te Ching” contains the essence of his teachings and if one would contemplate this chapter deeply, that is all the guidance one needs to find fulfillment and awakening. Here is the entire chapter One – first in the original text – and then in the translation by Lin Yutang and also a link to a page with further translations.

The original text in Wade-Giles Romanization:

Tao Te Ching, Chapter One(Lao Tzu)

tao k’o tao, fei ch’ang tao.
ming k’o ming, fei ch’ang ming.
wu, ming t’ien ti chih shih.
yu, ming wan wu chih mu.
ku ch’ang wu, yü yi kuan ch’i miao.
ch’ang yu, yü yi kuan ch’i chiao.
tz’u liang chê, t’ung ch’u erh yi ming.
t’ung wei chih hsüan.
hsüan chih yu hsüan.
chung miao chih mên.

English Translation by Lin Yutang (1942)

The Tao that can be told of

Is not the Absolute Tao;

The Names that can be given

Are not Absolute Names.

The Nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth;

The Named is the Mother of All Things.

Therefore:

Oftentimes, one strips oneself of passion

In order to see the Secret of Life;

Oftentimes, one regards life with passion,

In order to see its manifest forms.

These two (the Secret and its manifestations)

Are (in their nature) the same;

They are given different names

When they become manifest.

They may both be called the Cosmic Mystery:

Reaching from the Mystery into the Deeper Mystery

Is the Gate to the Secret of All Life.

According to legends, Laozi leaves China on hi...

Here is a translation that I just now came across and it is a lovely addition to the above one:

Tao Te Ching – Verse One

In the beginning of heaven and earth

There were no words,

Words came out of the womb of matter

And whether a man dispassionately

Sees the core of life

Or passionately sees the surface

The core and the surface

Are essentially the same,

Words making them seem different

Only to express appearance.

If name be needed, wonder names them both:

From wonder to wonder

Existence opens.

(translation by Witter Bynner)

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Link to further translations.

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