title: Tao Te Ching 14 - You can’t know the Tao but you can Be it

Book - Tao Te Ching - Lao Tzu

Stephen Mitchell Translation

Look, and it can’t be seen. Listen, and it can’t be heard. Reach, and it can’t be grasped.

Above, it isn’t bright. Below, it isn’t dark. Seamless, unnamable1, it returns to the realm of nothing2. Form that includes all forms, image without an image, subtle, beyond all conception.

Approach it and there is no beginning; follow it and there is no end. You can’t know it, but you can be it, at ease in your own life. Just realize where you come from: this is the essence of wisdom.

1: Truth is never expressed in words 2: Emptiness

Related poems:

Other translations I like

Looking and not seeing it, we call it invisible; listening and not hearing it, we call it inaudible; reaching and not touching it, we call it ethereal.

These three aspects of it cannot be grasped, but contribute to the one.

Its rising brings no dawn, its setting no darkness; it goes on and on, unnameable, returning into nothingness.

Its form is formless. Its image is invisible. Meeting it, you cannot see its face. Following it, you cannot see its back. Hold to the ancient Tao to grasp the here-and-now4.

Discovering how things have always been brings one into harmony with the Way. Sam Hamill