Tao te Ching

At Monkfish Abbey, we believe all truth is God’s truth. We’ll take true things wherever we can find them, and we’re learning how to honor the truth in the faith of our fellow siblings.

One of our monks, Rebecca, has been finding a lot of inspiration in the Tao te Ching. Here are three selections she gave us during a lectio divina practice.

The Tao … that can be told of
Is not the eternal Tao;
The name that can be named
Is not the eternal name.
Nameless, it is the origin of Heaven and earth;
Namable, it is the mother of all things.

Always nonexistent,
That we may apprehend its inner secret;
Always existent,
That we may discern its outer manifestations.
These two are the same;
Only as they manifest themselves they receive different names.
That they are the same is the mystery.
Mystery of all mysteries!
The door of all subtleties!

Tao (The Way) gave birth to One; One gave birth to Two; Two gave birth to Three; Three gave birth to all the myriad things.
The myriad things carry the yin on their backs and hold the yang in their embrace, and derive their harmony from the permeation of these forces.
To be “orphaned,” “lonely,” and “unworthy” is what men hate, and yet these are the very names by which kings and nobles call themselves. Truly, things may increase when they are diminished, but diminish when they are increased.
What others teach I also teach: “A man of violence will come to a violent end.” This I shall regard as the parent of all teachings.

There was something nebulous yet complete,
Born before Heaven and earth.
Silent, empty,
Self-sufficient and unchanging,
Revolving without cease and without fail,
It acts as the mother of the world.

I do not know its name,
And address it as “Tao.”
Attempting to give it a name, I shall call it “Great.”
To be great is to pass on.
To pass on is to go further and further away.
To go further and further away is to return.

Therefore Tao is great, Heaven is great, earth is great,
And the king is also great.
These are the Great Four in the universe,
And the king is one of them.
Man follows the ways of earth,
Earth follows the ways of Heaven;
Heaven follows the ways of Tao;
Tao follows the ways of itself