Religion: Taoism, DAO (TAO)
TAOISM (DAOISM), Religion TAOISM (DAOISM), TAOISM (DAOISM)Religion. DAO (TAO):
The Meaning of Dao
Firstly, Dao is the eternally existing Origin of the world: it knows no limits in space or time. According to Laozi, it is an undifferentiated whole which precedes the existence of Heaven and Earth. It is empty, silent and formless; it grows independently and is inexhaustible; and eternally revolves without ever stopping. It is the Source of all beings. In the Laozi it is said:
"There was something undifferentiated and all-embracing,
Which existed before Heaven and Earth.
Soundless and formless, it depends on nothing external
And stays inexhaustible.
It operates with a circular motion
And remains inextinguishable.
It may be considered the mother of all things under heaven".
It is so ancient, and so fundamentally different from all other beings, that it does not have a name, and cannot be described in ordinary language. However, in order to describe it, we cannot but give it a name, so it is called 'Dao', or also 'Great'.
Another Daoist theorist, Zhuang Zhou, also said in the chapter "The Great Patriarch" of the Book of Master Zhuang, that "Dao is a reality that can be trusted even though it has neither behaviour nor form; it can be transmitted from heart to heart, but not by words; it can be obtained but not seen. It is its own root, and existed prior to Heaven and Earth. It created the Spirits and Divinities, and gave birth to Heaven and Earth. It is higher than the Supreme Ultimate yet is not high; it is under than the Six Directions yet is not deep; it precedes all creation yet is not old; it is farther than the remotest antiquity yet is not distant".
The above makes clear that Dao is the origin of all existence; it is both the first and last of all beings, and knows no limits in time.
Dao is omnipresent:
The above also touches on space: according to Zhuangzi, Dao is also beyond limitations of space. The ancient concept of the Six Directions includes the four cardinal directions as well as above and below - in fact encompassing all space. That Dao is 'Under the Six Directions' means that Dao is great beyond all limitations of space. Even earlier, Laozi had said that Dao permeates our surroundings, so that it is impossible to say if it is to our left or to our right. Dao is a continuous and unbroken existence: should you wish to greet it, you would not see its head; should you wish to follow it, you would not find its tail. In a nutshell, Dao is omnipresent, and is not limited to any defined physical space.