Tao Te Ching: Part 1

Updated May 14, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
Daodejing (Tao Te Ching) by Laozi, trans. James Legge
Part 2

The Book of Dào

The first part of the Dàodéjīng, the Book of Dào addresses the idea of the Way (Dào). The Way of the Dàodéjīng refers to an intangible essence of the universe, described through poetic allusion and paradoxes. Beginning with a challenging and poetic puzzle for reader and translator alike1 the book leads readers into its envisioned mysteries of the universe.


1. Dào kě dào fēicháng Dào (道可道, 非常道), roughly "The Way that can be told/followed is not the Way." Aside from the paradox, there is an additional pun; the phrase used for "be told/followed" is also the word Dào. So, in a sense, the Way that is the Way is not the Way. Word puzzles like this fill the text, and encourage readers to try and resolve the contradictions.

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