Dao De Jing 1 – Dao is beyond words and names, form and non form

Dao De Jing 1 – Dao is beyond words and names, form and non form

“The Dao that can be spoken is not the enduring and unchanging Dao. The name that can be named is not the enduring and unchanging name.”

-> As Dao is beyond forms, words and names are only symbols and pointers of the Dao.

“Nothingness, is the origin of heaven and earth; Beingness, is the mother of all things.”

-> Prior to the self/i arising (e.g. in deep sleep), there is no perception and therefore no heaven and earth. With the self/i arising, perception appears and one see all things.

” Abide in nothingness, one see deep wisdom; Abide in beingness, one see boundless creation.”

->When one discover the reality beyond forms, one discover the wisdom beyond the phenomenon world, when one abide in the reality of forms, one see the diversity of all creation.

“Both arise from same source but have different names, together they are called mystery.” “Lie in the deepest of mystery, is the gate to all wisdom and wonder.”

->If  there is a ultimate reality that is accountable for all creations, it gives rise to both (form & beyond form). Together and beyond separation ties are gateway to the deepest wisdom and wonder.

* * *

Chapter 1 Discussion:

In this first chapter of Daodejing, Laozi presents the nature of reality (Dao) as beyond words, names, forms, and non-form. It represents the source of above all, and is beyond all dualistic separations such as form/non-form, being/nothing.  This chapter cautions readers up front that one should not be lost  in words, even that from this Daodejing itself. Treat them as pointers and temporary information, but seek and aim for the (Dao).  The Chapter also introduces Dao as beyond duality and opposites.  Typically, our minds likes to draw separation and describe the world with a subject and an object (e.g. a “i” in a “world”, a “this” vs. “that”), and think of phenomena as having opposites such as hot/cold, fast/slow, high/low, etc. Laozi discovered the reality (Dao) as beyond all this separations, including the ultimate separation of nothingness(non-form) and beingness(forms).

DDJ Chapter 1 bilingual text: http://www.lisiming.net/philosophy/chinese-philosophy/daoist/daoist-philosophy/dao-de-jing-core-33-chapters/ddj1-8/


4 responses to “Dao De Jing 1 – Dao is beyond words and names, form and non form”

  1. 妮基 Avatar

    Master Li Si Ming,

    Is it not true that the concept of Yin and Yang is but a system of measurement, one necessary for people to communicate and function in a practical manner?

    We measure relative heaviness and lightness (weight) and we call the force that gives objects weight, gravity.

    Yet gravity, like the Dao, is something whose effect we can measure and even predict, but no one in the world can explain exactly what it is.

    Is there something missing from this perspective?

    1. derek Avatar

      Yes, the dualistic perspective we use to perceive, understand, communicate, and associate to others in the world, is the predominant paradigm and therefore is practical to adopt in living in the current world. What is missing? or limitation in this perspective? The answer is two-folded. First, as Daoist Master Chuangzi described, there is nothing absolute in the dualistic world of perception, what considered good and royal to upkeep at one point (such as being loyal to a king) becomes invalid when context change (e.g. loyal to a selfish demonic king). Same limitation applied in scientific laws, take the law of gravity as example, it is applicable to only a certain context, i.e. on earth. So looking from a strict scientific point of view, the laws as constructed in dualistic paradigm can only be viewed as valid to certain conditions. Second, in the context of finding the absolute truth, one need to go for laws that is applicable in all context. Subjectively and spiritually speaking, the perception of a dualistic split between “self” and others/world disappears when one is in certain states of awareness, so in that awareness, such as that described in Laozi’s Daodejing, conventional perception and dualistic laws fails, and more pervasive truths/teachings are needed.

  2. 妮基 Avatar


    When referring to ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’ … am implying our tendency to ‘think of phenomena as having opposites.’

  3. […] is really no Dharma to teach, said the Buddha.  Does it sound familiar to Chapter 1 of Laozi’s Daodejing (whatever spoken is not the real and everlasting Dao)?  If the two masters met, i imagine there […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *