Taoist sense one should start with the concept of the
, which translates to “theway,”
is the central concept of Taoism, giving the tradition its name. The
is explained aseternal and nameless. It is the “mother of the universe,” which is in operation everywhere anddependent on nothing.
Taoist descriptions of the
portray it as an all-pervasive, life-sustaining, and nourishing force.
We must be careful not to take the
as something that cantruly be described with words, however. Lao Tzu, who wrote the
Tao Te Ching
, the main doctrineof Taoism along with the book of Chuang Tzu, tells us “the Tao that can be told is not the trueTao.”
Lao Tzu refers to the
as nameless and intangible, due to its infinite nature.
Only finiteobjects can be assigned to a name in Taoist thought, since giving something a name serves to tieit to a definite identity.
“cannot be told” and has an infinite and all-pervasivenature it “rejects all names.” Lao Tzu even tells us that the only reason he refers to the
is because he does “not know its name.”
is really the underlying pattern of the universe, or a type of cosmic law from which all thingsare derived. Everything is derived from the
and everything is a part of the
. We can readthis in the words of the
Tao Te Ching
, which tells us “the Tao is like a well, used but never usedup.” It is also like an “eternal void, filled with infinite possibilities” and the “great mother whichgives birth to infinite worlds.”
by its nature, cannot be explained or comprehendedlike any finite thing can. Instead we must recognize the infinite mystery of the
as existing in
Lao Tzu. Tao Te Ching. Trans. Stephen Mitchell. New York: Frances Lincoln, 1999. Chap. 25
Ip, Po-Keung. "Taoism and the Foundations of Environmental Ethics." Environmental Ethics 5 (1983): 336.
Lao Tzu. Ibid. Chap. 1
Ip, Po-Keung. Ibid.
Ip, Po-Keung. "Taoism and the Foundations of Environmental Ethics." Environmental Ethics 5 (1983): 337.
Lao Tzu. Tao Te Ching. Trans. Stephen Mitchell. New York: Frances Lincoln, 1999. Chap. 1