Tao-Te-Ching 体道 (Embodying The Dao, s. 1)

Jo Tum Girvar To Hum Mora
A Landscape Painting capturing the background for many mystical yet existential discussions. Imagine yourself in front of these mountains while reading this commentary.

ਤ੍ਵ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥ ਦੋਹਰਾ॥
ਨਮਸਕਾਰ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਖੜਗ ਕੋ ਕਰੋਂ ਸੁ ਹਿਤੁ ਚਿਤ ਲਾਇ ॥
ਪੂਰਨ ਕਰੋਂ ਗਿਰੰਥ ਇਹੁ ਤੁਮ ਮੁਹਿ ਕਰਹੁ ਸਹਾਇ ॥੧॥
Bowing to The Sword/Sword-Wielder while keeping You in my Heart & in my Thoughts
Please complete this Granth for it can only be done if You provide me with Your Support.

ੴ ਸਤਿਗੁਰਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ
ਅਥ ਡਾਉ-ਡਿ-ਝਿੰਗ ਸਟੀਕ ਆਈਨਾ ਕ੍ਰਿਤ
Now begins the Tao-Te-Ching Commentary; as written by Aaeenaa
Daas has purposely left out any definitions or context to the Tao-Te-Ching in the introduction. This text is extremely vague and thus, allows for a lot of different interpretations. There are a total of 81 sections. For now, we will do one at a time.

The tao (道) that can be (可) described/walked on (道) is not (非) the Eternal (常) Tao (道).
Our first means to understand something is to conceptualize it or to translate it from our previous knowledge. So if we were to do this then you can look at all the various definitions of Tao (way, path, process, road, etc). As someone who comes from a South Asian background, daas would say Dharam/Dharma and Tao are similar to each other. Dharam is not easily defined as well. Some refer to Dharam as religion, righteousness, the way, or the path. The first topic of discussion is that the Tao that we can explain – like daas tried to do so above – is not the Eternal Tao. It can be understood that you cannot explain Akaal Purakh or the Way to get to Akaal Purakh. This text is so open to interpretation that it does not openly refer to any specific Being but just an Existence. What can you say of This Existence? Sri Guru AmarDas Ji Maharaj have a perfect word which They use to describe this (Akath):
ਤੂ ਅਕਥੁ ਕਿਉ ਕਥਿਆ ਜਾਹਿ॥
You (ਤੂ) are Indescribable (ਅਕਥੁ), How (ਕਿਉ) can You be Described? (ਕਥਿਆ ਜਾਹਿ)
Even those who attempt to attain the Indescribable, Their State of Mind/Being is Indescribable as well, just as Maharaj tells us in Japji Sahib:
ਮੰਨੇ ਕੀ ਗਤਿ ਕਹੀ ਨ ਜਾਇ॥
In Raag Bilaaval, Guru Arjan Dev Ji Maharaj explain to us as to how to walk on this path:
ਮਾਰਗ ਪਾਏ ਉਦਿਆਨ ਮਹਿ ਗੁਰਿ ਦਸੇ ਭੇਤ॥
Guru Sahib shows us the path (ਮਾਰਗ ਪਾਏ) in the Wilderness/Darkness (ਉਦਿਆਨ ਮਹਿ) [of Sansaar], Guru Sahib tells (ਗੁਰਿ ਦਸੇ) us the Secrets (ਭੇਤ) [of Existence].

The name (名) that can be (可) named/spoken (名) about is not (非) the Eternal (常) Name (名).
As we begin this text, we can see hints towards something which cannot be understood by our minds. Our mind inputs the 5 senses and creates a perception based on this. The material/manifested world can only be perceived. The Immaterial is described only through that which is within the material world.
Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj refers to Akaal Purakh’s Out-of-Worldliness and the Challenge of Describing Their Qualities in the beginning of Jaap Sahib:
ਤ੍ਵ ਸਰਬ ਨਾਮ ਕਥੈ ਕਵਨ ਕਰਮ ਨਾਮ ਬਰਨਤ ਸੁਮਤ ॥
How can we describe (ਕਥੈ ਕਵਨ) all (ਸਰਬ) of Your (ਤ੍ਵ) names/qualities (ਨਾਮ)? The Action-Related names/qualities can only be spoken to provide us Giaan. This refers to Vaheguru interacting in this manifestation. When this manifestation doesn’t exist then what names can be used to describe Vaheguru? All of the names we have thought of are relative to this world. This is probably why Maharaj describes Vaheguru as being without Name: ਅਨਾਮ ਹੈ ॥
There was an instance where Sant Teja Singh MA had introduced Sant Attar Singh on stage. In this introduction, Sant Teja Singh Ji had stated that Sant Attar Singh would explain what Naam is. Sant Attar Singh cried for 20 minutes before saying, this Naam cannot be explained but only chanted.

The Name () -less () is the boundary of Heaven/Day/Sky () and Earth ().
This line makes two parts of existence distinct. One which cannot be named or cannot be described & that which can be named/described. We can use the concepts of Nirgun & Sargun to interpret these. Nirgun means formless (that which did not take on a form, we live in the world of forms)
We can refer to a cat as being black and small but for Nirgun we cannot describe Akaal Purakh in that State with either of those qualities... Nirgun’s existence is Agam and Agochar, as Guru Arjan Dev Maharaj states:
ਅਗਮ ਅਗੋਚਰੁ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਮੇਰਾ ॥
My Master (ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਮੇਰਾ) is Unreachable (ਅਗਮ) and cannot be perceived through the Senses (ਅਗੋਚਰੁ).
This is a description of Akaal Purakh in Nirgun. These qualities are not fixed qualities. The terms themselves are adding to the Unknowable traits of Nirgun.
Lao Tsu refers to the Nameless being the boundary of Heaven/Earth. These are limitless qualities:
ਤੂ ਬੇਅੰਤ ਕੋ ਵਿਰਲਾ ਜਾਣੈ॥
You (ਤੂ) are Endless (ਬੇਅੰਤ); only a few know of this (ਕੋ ਵਿਰਲਾ ਜਾਣੈ).
(Raag Vadahans, Guru Arjan Dev Ji)

Being () Named () is the Mother () of () Multitudes/Creation (万物).
The World of Form originates from Maya; the Shakti/Energy of Akaal Purakh. Nirgun and Sargun are not separate:
ਨਿਰਗੁਨੁ ਆਪਿ ਸਰਗੁਨੁ ਭੀ ਓਹੀ
You yourself are Formless/Quality-less & You are the Same One with Form/Qualities.
ਕਲਾ ਧਾਰਿ ਜਿਨਿ ਸਗਲੀ ਮੋਹੀ
You are the One with Powers which has enchanted everyone.
A good way to understand this is like an object and its shadow.
In Sarbloh Prakash Granth, Maharaj writes:
ਛਾਯਾ ਰੂਪੀ ਹੋਇ ਕੈ ਬਿਚਰਤ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਗੋਪਾਲ॥
Taking the Form of Their Own Shadow, Akaal Purakh also pervades within The Creation.
The Manifest World is the Shadow. Its existence is dependent on the Object. The Object does not need the Shadow. Akaal Purakh has projected this Shadow of Existence.

To be freed from (故常无) desire/reason/intention (欲) allows (以) you to see (观) the Wonderful/Hidden/Deep Mystery (妙).
By being lost in desire (常有欲), makes it so (以) you can only see (观) what's in the limited (其徼)  world.
Again, there is another two-sided concept from Gurmat which can be explicitly applied here. This concept is of nishkaamta & sahkaamta. Nishkaamta is a state of desirelessness and Sahkaamta is a state of having desires. The existence of desires is linked to perceiving that you have an identity.
Nishkaam = without desires, get Brahmgiaan (Bhed of Vaheguru)
Saikaam = stuck in the I/ego, so limited to individual perception.
There is a note written by Sant Isher Singh Rara Sahib which says in English:
"Desireless man is a true King".
*We will go into this in-depth in future posts*

Yet both of these (此两者) emerge from the same source (同出) yet (而) have different names (异名). Together (同), this source (之) is called (谓) Mysterious (玄).
There is not any duality. Our mind may misperceive different states, different beings, different colours but it is all one. Both the state of Nirgun and Sargun and both the state of Nishkaam and Sahkaam are One.
Just as Guru Amardas Ji gives updesh to us in Sri Raag:
ਨਾਨਕ ਏਕ ਜੋਤਿ ਦੁਇ ਮੂਰਤੀ ਸਬਦਿ ਮਿਲਾਵਾ ਹੋਇ॥
Guru Sahib: One Light but Two Forms, the Shabad allows us to reconcile them and see them for the Undivided One Reality that Vaheguru is.
This duality is an illusion ingrained in us from childhood. The dual states of pleasure and pain, good and evil, right and wrong are all One.
In Raag Gauree, Guru Nanak Dev Ji Maharaj informs us:
ਰਾਹ ਦੋਵੈ ਖਸਮੁ ਏਕੋ ਜਾਣੁ॥
There appear to be two paths but the Master of All is One.

Mysterious () born from (之又) Mysteriousness ().
In This Wonderful Expanse (众妙) is The Gateway (之门).
We begin to ponder about our existence. We can understand how a child be born from a mother but how can we understand Vaheguru to be ਅਜੂਨੀ (not take birth)? From that Formless ਅਜੂਨੀ Akaal Purakh, this entire universe and creation were born. How does existence come from That which has no origin?
This is the mysteriousness and the limitations of the mind that makes us just say Vaah! in being awestruck!

Maharaj asks us the following question, in Japji Sahib, to put us in a state of wonder about our origin:
ਕਵਣਿ ਸਿ ਰੁਤੀ ਮਾਹੁ ਕਵਣੁ ਜਿਤੁ ਹੋਆ ਆਕਾਰੁ॥
Have you asked yourself: What season, what month was this universe was created?
These concepts of time are all relative to our existence on earth. It is something that just makes you surrender your mind to Guru Sahib in awe. This entire ਆਕਾਰ (expanse/manifestation) is the playing field for our game to return back into the Formless. What is the Gateway to return? The Human Body.
All of these questions and inquiries are not new... they should create a revolution within our minds. What should we do with the human body?

We hear the answer in Rehras Sahib daily from Guru Arjan Dev Ji Maharaj:
ਭਈ ਪਰਾਪਤਿ ਮਾਨੁਖ ਦੇਹੁਰੀਆ॥
We’ve been blessed with attaining this human body.
ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਮਿਲਣ ਕੀ ਇਹ ਤੇਰੀ ਬਰੀਆ॥
This is the chance to meet Vaheguru.
ਅਵਰਿ ਕਾਜ ਤੇਰੈ ਕਿਤੈ ਨ ਕਾਮ ॥
All other tasks are not of any use to you.
ਮਿਲ ਸਾਧਸੰਗਤਿ ਭਜੁ ਕੇਵਲ ਨਾਮ॥
Meet with the Saadhh-Sangat to vibrate and meditate on the Naam.

Most discussions in Gurbani and Sikhi come back to this: this life is precious, use it wisely and Jap Naam. The Tao-Te-Ching presented us with some spiritual concepts to explore but in order to reach that which cannot be Named, that which cannot be explained, that state of desirelessness, uniting the seemingly dual existence, and trying to understand our origin... All you need to do is Jap Naam, read Gurbani, sing Kirtan, and do Seva. This knowledge will be invoked from the internal springs of Amrit that Maharaj sends to Their GurSikhs.
Don’t buy it? At least try it. I am a Daas of the Guru, these vichaars only happened because this slave’s Master has showered with pity and blessings.

If you would like to see where the original translations are being sourced from then find them here & here. The Yellow Bridge version is very helpful as it explains each character one by one and allows for a well-rounded understanding of the lines. Please forgive all the mistakes and please suggest corrections Sangat Ji, you are wiser than I.

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