These are the very first lines of the Tao te Ching by Lao Tzu and it sets the tone for the whole idea of the book. The Tao translates to 'The Way' and can be seen as a path or a method for living by. But it is much more than that. It also means 'reality' as in the way of everything in the cosmos. That's deep.
So with these first few lines, Lao Tzu puts us in our place. How can we dare to 'name' the universe? How can we even assume to comprehend it? This verse is reminding us of the dichotomy between reasoning and intuition while at the same time telling us that both are encompassed in the Tao. In my view, the only way to come close to understanding the Tao is through mindful meditation. To 'experience' it. Taoism is close to Zen Buddhism, but is not a religion. It is more of a way of living.
I recommend you get a copy of the Tao te Ching (a good modern translation is by Ralph Alan Dale). It is an extraordinary book, both mysterious and practical. It is full of apparent contradictions that provoke thought and insight. Even though it has ancient origins, it remains relevant today. Though pretty elusive, the basic concept of Taoism is that each one of us is a reflection of the whole universe and that we all live within the same cosmic laws of the Tao. The Tao te Ching offers spiritual guidance for the Taoist, who aims to 'go with the flow' and live in harmony with the world.
Happy reading :)
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