道 Dào The Way
Russell Kirkland underlines in his article seven aspects of the Dao: its polysemy and non-reification, the range of meanings in classical sources, its being the object of personal transmission, its ability to denote the focus of group identity or the focus of personal spiritual practice, a meaning of Dao as ‘the divine’ in broadest terms, and the Dao as the matrix of spiritual transformation.
I would like to turn attention now to the Webster”s New World Dictionary, which underlines six aspects of the term ‘philosophy’: 1) origin, love of, or the search for wisdom or knowledge, 2) theory or logical analysis of the principles underlying conduct, thought, knowledge, and the nature of the universe, 3) the general principles or laws of a field of knowledge, activity and etc, 4) (a) a particular system of principles for the conduct of life (b) a treatise covering such a system, 5) (a) a study of human morals, character, and behavior (b) mental balance or composure thought of as resulting from this; calmness, 6) same as natural philosophy.
As far as I can see the Western approach is the Western system of knowledge in general and it is always the same dealing with Eastern culture(s). Is it only one way of thinking?
The rare citation in the Encyclopedia of Taoism of the seventh-century text Daojiao yishu (Pivot of Meaning of the Taoist Teaching) looks fresh (thanks, R. Kirkland!) and sounds: “This Dao is the ultimate of reality (zhēn 真), the ultimate of subtlety, and yet there is nothing that is not penetrated by its emptiness.” Looks like we still have another direction to go.
Sooner or later, we have to say it: a long way (studying Traditional Mandarin, translation of the ancient texts, practicing calligraphy, martial arts, painting, reading prose and poesy in different languages — years and years of private experience in sum) can lead to one short (instant) understanding what truly lays under the word ‘Dao’ and one text, one quotation, one moment of life can be crucial to see what has been hidden before. Nevertheless, it is still not my favorite image:)
What I do like is spending some minutes in everyday life imagining that power many billion years ago which was in the beginning of universe and still somewhere and somehow around and inside me and everything I see. Simple like this.
And my favorite image for that power is …?