Here in the West, language structures our world into objects and actions. We have nouns and we have verbs. Among the nouns we make a distinction between the “whats” and the “whos,” between inanimate things and living beings.
Translations from Chinese usually treat Tao as a noun; however, Tao cannot be so neatly categorized. It is both noun and verb; it is neither noun nor verb. Nor is it easily classified either as a “who” or as a “what.”
A defining statement of our Western culture is found in the Gospel of John,
“In the beginning was the Word . . .”
Yet Tao Te Ching begins with a starkly contrasting line that roughly translates as,
“The Tao that can be put into words is not the real Tao.”
Mindful of the paradox of using words and images to approach Tao, I invite you to enter this book with a spirit of adventure. Explore with me this Tao that has over the past few decades come from the Far East into our Western world.
This is from the first page of my 2018 book, A Rainbow of Tao