The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
One who speaks does not know
One who knows does not speak
One of the great ironies about the Tao Te Ching is that it says that it cannot really explain the Tao. Even the legend about its creation reinforces this point with Lao-Tzu being forced to write it before he was allowed to escape the sadness of the world. I've puzzled over this a long tme, particularly the passage about "One who knows...".
Initially I thought that perhaps it was because those who had become enlightened had achieved some great spiritual wisdom too great to share with those of lesser attainment, or that their vision would be incomprehensible to we mindless chattering souls struggling along behind them on the path. Now I believe I understand it better, in that as harmony with the Tao comes closer, this need to talk about it fades and the inadequacy of words becomes ever more apparent.
I've found the idea of writing about Taoism increasingly hard over the last few years, as you can easily see from how many posts I've written for each year (32 in 2009, 1 in 2011). In light of this I think that this may be my last post in this blog, but I thought it important to finish it formally rather than just let it fade away.
At the start of my journey a lot of the driving force was trying to understand my life, the world around me, and my own mortality. This journey continues to take me in directions I could never have imagined and through Taoism I have discovered my true self. While this journey is far from being complete, the old questions of self-doubt and fear of death have faded and something new and positive taken their place. For the first time I can remember I feel whole, happy and at peace.
Of course if nobody had written anything about the Tao there would be nothing to guide future generations and Taoist teaching would have been long since forgotten. The important thing to remember however is that the Tao Te Ching is not some holy book, but just an attempt by human beings to pass knowledge to other human beings. What is really important is what it tries to show you. As with the Buddhist teaching, words are like a finger pointing at the Moon, they are not the Moon itself.
If you are interested in reading more about journeys in Taoism I recommend that you visit Bill Martin's Taoist Thoughts Blog. Bill is the author of my favourite book on Taoism (A Path and a Practice - William Martin) and is the clearest interpreter of Taoist thought that I've encountered in my journey (about 13 years long at time of writing). Of course Bill is just a guy, not a prophet or a guru, so you may not agree with everything he says. Well that's just being a human being! But I do recommend taking the time to read some of his work.
I'd just like to take the opportunity to thank everybody who has read this blog over the last four and a half years, and thank you all for the questions, comments and encouragement. I started this blog to help me understand my journey and it's proved very useful though some things I believed at one stage may have altered with the journey. If anybody else is thinking about trying a similar blog I can recommend it.
So thanks once again to everybody and I'll leave you with the Three Jewels of Taoism which are all you really need to know: