Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – Chapter 21
The marks of great Character
Follow alone from the Tao.
The thing that is called Tao
Is elusive, evasive.
Latent in it are forms.
Latent in it are objects.
Dark and dim,
Latent in it is the life-force.
The life-force being very real,
Latency in it is evidence.
From the days of old till now
Its Named (manifested forms) have never ceased,
By which we may view the Father of All Things.
How do I know the shape of the Father of All Things?
Through these (manifested forms)!
(By Yu Tang Lin)
Image is from The Way of Beauty.
This chapter begins with an account of the relationship between “Tao” (道)and “virtue.” (德)Taoism is intangible. It must be manifested through concrete objects. This manifestation is “virtue.” Therefore, Lao Zi said that the change of form of great virtue is according to Tao.
Next, Lao-tzu says: Tao is very hard to describe it because it is intangible. Just as he describes in chapter 14, Tao is the form of the formless, and the image of the imageless.
However, Lao Tzu then clearly and affirmatively describes the Tao’s existence, with “form,” “object,” “life-force” and “truth.” It is through the manifested form of virtue that we can understand the Tao.
So Tao as has existed all the time from ancient times to today, and its name (manifested form) has not disappeared or even changed, and also through the manifested form, we can view the Father of All Things.