Forgot your password?

We just sent you an email, containing instructions for how to reset your password.

Sign in

  • Once AgonyD, here is the Stephen Mitchell translation, which I love:

    The tao that can be told

    is not the eternal Tao.

    The name that can be named

    is not the eternal Name.

    The unnamable is the eternally real.

    Naming is the origin

    of all particular things.

    Free from desire, you realize the mystery.

    Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

    Yet mystery and manifestations

    arise from the same source.

    This source is called darkness.

    Darkness within darkness.

    The gateway to all understanding.


    Ursula LeGuin is a little New Age-y, but still distinctive and interesting:

    The way you can go

    isn't the real way.

    The name you can say

    isn't the real name.

    Heaven and earth

    begin in the unnamed:

    name's the mother

    of the ten thousand things.

    So the unwanting soul

    sees what's hidden,

    and the ever-wanting soul

    sees only what it wants.

    Two things, one origin,

    but different in name,

    whose identity is mystery.

    Mystery of all mysteries!

    The door to the hidden.



    LeGuin, Ursula. Tao Te Ching: A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way. Shambhala, 1998.

    Mitchell, Stephen (2009-10-13). Tao Te Ching (Kindle Locations 229-238). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Better browser, please.

To view Cowbird, please use the latest version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer.