Tag: Lao Tzu

The Tao Te Ching and God: Does Tao = God?

Now I’m not technically (whatever that means) a Taoist, and Taoism has gone through many changes (PERVERSIONS, if you ask me) since the earliest conception of the philosophy/religion which existed even before Lao Tzu, but if you read a good translation of the Tao Te Ching (which is Taoism’s core text–I suggest the translation by Johnathan Starr to begin with) it sure does seem that TAO = GOD.

There are lots of verses that point to this idea, but I’d like to simply share one that is especially PROFOUND.

These are the first 4 lines of the first verse of the Tao Te Ching:

“The Tao that is the Tao, is not the true/everlasting Tao.

The Name that is the Name, is not the true/everlasting Name”

Pretty cryptic huh? GET USED TO IT! The Tao Te Ching and Taoism is HIGHLY cryptic, which is a big part of its BEAUTY and INTRIGUE. Let’s try replacing the word TAO with the word GOD:

“The God that is the God, is not the true/everlasting God.

The Name that is the Name, is not the true/everlasting Name”

What this means to me is that the God that you (as in ANYBODY) think of as God, is not the TRUE form/understanding of God. God transcends ALL understanding of anyone or anything that is not God itself. NOBODY CAN UNDERSTAND GOD, or even begin to understand God, because that is how profound and incredible God is. That is what the Tao Te Ching is saying here.

By the same reasoning, whatever name or label you ascribe to God (“God” included haha) is not the TRUE name of God, which (if there is one) cannot be spoken by mere mortal mouths or confined to a set of letters.

A little food for thought. Do you guys think that Tao = God?

~Shams

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Tao Te Ching – Verse 1 (part 1) – with Commentary + How it Relates to God and the Holy Spirit

“A way that can be walked is not the Way
A name that can be named is not the Name
Tao is both Named and Nameless
As Nameless, it is the origin of all things
As Named, it is the mother of all things”

To understand the Tao Te Ching, it is important to first understand the title. Ching basically means “book.” So it is the Book of Tao and Te. 

Now, Tao and Te are a bit more difficult to describe, as the very nature of “Tao” is to be beyond description or mental understanding. Tao is often translated as “the way” as it is here in this verse. The first line actually reads “The Tao that is the Tao is not the Eternal/True Tao” (Tao ku Tao fei chang Tao in Chinese). That is to say the Tao that you are thinking of, is not what Tao is really like. That is because the real existing Tao, is something far beyond our mortal brain’s comprehension or imagination. I will talk about “Te” and how they relate to God and the Holy Spirit at the end.

The next line goes on the say that when you name something, it does not sum up what the thing is in actually (represented by the capital “N” in the last Name). So the first words of the Tao Te Ching serve to tell us that THE CONCEPTION YOU HAVE IN YOUR MIND do not represent TRUE reality.

Tao is BEYOND DUALITY, as it can be both named and nameless.

Nameless“, is nothingness, from which we understand that reality sprung (from the singularity – basically nothing – before the big bang). It is the “origin of all things.” … True enough.

As “Named“, once it has existence, it is the “mother” of all things. A similar role (in that they are both CREATING) but the word “mother’ implies a more physical and less spiritual origin. I think this is to say that Tao is the creator of both the spiritual and physical realms.

Now, if Tao sounds a lot like God to you, well… me too. In the Quran (the holy book of Islam) it says that God sent a messenger to every peoples. It is likely that Lao Tzu, the author of the Tao Te Ching, might have been one of those messengers, in my mind.

Now to talk about “Te” which is the EXPRESSION of Tao. Tao cannot be conceptualized or divided. A PART of Tao is not the TRUE Tao. So, when Tao interacts with things, this expression is called Te. I think what Lao Tzu was talking about, in Biblical/Quranic terms is the Holy Spirit. Is not the Holy Spirit the expression of God’s will on Earth?

So the “Tao Te Ching” translates (one way) to “The Book of Tao and its Expression,” or “The Book of God and the Holy Spirit” if you prefer 🙂 (Which I do!)

We’ll find that the Tao Te Ching does not always express Tao in ways that correlate directly with the Biblical conception of God. But I think it’s important to remember that God (the TRUE God in reality, not our ideas and conceptions about Him) is far beyond our mortal mind’s ability to conceive of. And, as God cannot be divided, if you don’t understand God in His ENTIRETY, then you don’t really understand God at all.

Frustrating isn’t it! Ah, but it makes things interesting and reminds us to stay humble.

May the Force (God?!) be with you. Hmmm?

~Jones