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Lao Tzu for Everyone

Students, Scholars,

& Seekers

Peter Gilboy, Ph.D.


Line 1    道 可 道 也  非 恆 道 也

Line 2    名 可 名 也  非 恆 名 也

Line 3    无 名 萬 物  之 始 也

Line 4    有 名 萬 物  之 母 也

Line 5   故 恆 无 欲 也  以 觀 其 眇

Line 6   恆 有 欲 也 以 觀 其 所 徼

Line 7   兩 者 同 出 異 名 同 胃

Line 8   玄 之 有 玄 眾 眇 之 門


“These Two

  are actually the Same”



     Lao Tzu’s first lesson is metaphysical.* It is also his fullest lesson. In fact, Lao’s Tzu's entire message to us is housed in this one lesson. But it may well seem cryptic at first. See the interlinear translations and commentaries of this and other lessons to better understand. Lao Tzu is not giving us data. He is leading toward seeing what he sees.

Click on each line number

for Chinese-English interlinear & commentary


The way that I

can talk about

is not

the timeless Way.



Any name that I

can name

is not

the timeless Name.


As Nameless, the Way is

the origin of each thing

in our world.


But after we give it a name

then we then conceptualize ‘the Way,’

as the ‘mother’ of all things.


Therefore, ever without desire,

we behold the

mystery of the Way.


And ever with desire,

we behold the

coming forth

of the Way as the

teeming world around us.



These “two” are

actually the Same.

They come forth to us

with different names,

but they are the same Way.


This is the most

profound truth of all,

and it is our gateway to the

many and the mystery.


*Metaphysics: The science of the inward and essential nature of things; not just what we see, taste, touch and smell in the busy world around us, but what the source is that underlies it all. Metaphysics asks the most fundamental questions of all: “Why is there something and not nothing?” “Where did it all come from?” This also begs the question, “What is my place in it all?


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