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According to Chen Guying, the Wu as such is full of inexhaustible and yet invisible vitality; and correspondingly it contains endless and numerous You.The interaction between Wu and You exemplifies the dynamic process of the metaphysical Dao engendering Heaven, earth and the myriad things. As a consequence of this process, this seemingly transcendental Dao comes into close contact with the concrete or phenomenal world, thus making the Dao anything but a hanging-in-the-air or empty concept. That is why the Dao is deemed to feature a "double character" which is somewhat metaphysical on the one hand, and physical on the other.
As has been observed, this chapter attempts to explain the Dao as something beyond verbal expression and conceptualization, and that it is the origin of Heaven, earth and all things. Many people are under the impression that Lao Zi's statement is deliberately mystifying when he calls the Dao "deeper and more profound." In fact what Lao Zi is stressing here is that the Dao, as the fountain-head of the myriad things, lies in the deep and profound origin of the universe. Although Lao Zi proclaimed that the Dao can not be named or told, he actually offers certain ideas about the Dao, for instance, its indescribability and innumerability. Later in Chapter 25 (DDJ) Lao Zi further explains the essence of the Dao by admitting that something existed prior to Heaven and earth, but whatever it was, it was in a state of chaos. As there was no name available for it, he called it the Dao for the sake of convenience. According to scholars of the Dao De Jing, Lao Zi made use of many terms from the empirical world to interpret the Dao, but then discarded them one after another. This indicates that empirical terms are inadequate for defining the Dao, and underlines the subtlety of the Dao.
It should be mentioned in passing that the concept of the Dao as fashioned by Lao Zi may have been derived from two preexisting terms known as tian dao (the Dao of Heaven) and tian ming (Heavenly destiny or fate), which seem to be associated with primitive shamanism. Lao Zi's concept of the Dao may have been a substitution for a supernatural being or God used worshiped by the ancient Chinese. This may explain why religion in the sense of a supernaturally sanctioned order has been virtually absent from the Chinese cultural context ever since.
A sound comprehension of the Dao, as we may claim, can hardly be attained without examining the writings of another notable Daoist, Zhuang Zi (Chuang Tzu). Unlike his predecessor Lao Zi, who expressed his vision of the Dao in a highly condensed poetic and aphoristic style, Zhuang Zi strove to explain the Dao along with its characteristics by means of metaphoric prose. For instance, he comments on the nature of the Dao through the voice of a person he names wu shi (meaning "no beginning"). In Knowledge Wandered North (i.e. Chapter 22, "Zhi Bei You," in The Book of Zhuang Zi), he says, "The Dao cannot be heard; if heard, it is not the Dao. The Dao cannot be seen; if seen, it is not the Dao. The Dao cannot be described; if described, it is not the Dao. That which gives form to the formed is itself formless. Can you understand that? There is no name that fits the Dao." This is obviously an extended explication of the Dao as it appears in Chapter 14 (DDJ). Then, the subsequent remarks made by Zhuang Zi can be counted as a further explanation. That is, "He who, when asked about the Dao, gives an answer does not understand the Dao. And he who asks about the Dao has not really heard the Dao explained. The Dao is not to be asked about, and even if it is asked about, there can be no answer. To ask about what cannot be asked about is to ask for the sky (meaning to try to measure the immeasurable, such as the sky). To answer what cannot be answered is to try to split hairs. If the hair-splitter waits for the sky-asker, they neither will ever perceive the time and space that surround them on the outside, or understand the Great Beginning that is within. Such men can never trek across the Kunlun Mountains, (the most formidable range of mountains known to the ancient Chinese and often cited metaphorically to suggest something sublime or extremely difficult), can never wander in the Great Void (meaning here the universe)" (see Burton Watson. The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, pp. 243-244). This obviously stresses the subtlety, profundity and indescribability of the Dao. However, it goes to extremes by absolutizing and mystifying these features of the Dao. If the above is the case, how could it be possible for Lao Zi to write more than 5,000 words about it? And correspondingly, how could it be possible for Daoism as a school of thought to have lodged itself permanently as a quintessential part of Chinese philosophy? Many philosophers, both Chinese and non-Chinese, have ever since endeavored to comprehend the nature and character of the Dao. It is intriguing to notice that another answer to the question as to what the nature of the Dao is offered in Zhuang Zi's work (Chapter 23, "Geng-sang Chu"). It goes like this: "It (the Dao) comes from no source; it goes back in through no aperture. It has reality, yet there is no place where it resides. It has duration, yet no beginning or end. Something emerges, though through no aperture--this refers to the fact that it has reality. It has reality, yet there is no place where it resides-this refers to the dimension of space. It has duration, but no beginning or end--this refers to the dimension of time. There is life, there is death, there is a coming out, there is a going back in--yet in the coming out and going back its form is never seen. This is called the Heavenly Gate (rian men). The Heavenly Gate is non-being. The myriad things come forth from non-being. Being cannot create being out of being; inevitably it must come forth from non-being. Non-being is absolute non-being, and it is here that the sage hides himself" (see Burton Watson, Ibid., pp. 256-257). The term Heavenly Gate (tian men) means similar to the version "doorway to all subtleties" in Chapter 1 (DDJ). The "sage" mentioned in this context appears somewhat like a god, yet a humanized god similar to a divine person. Additionally, the English rendering of You as "being" should be "Being-within-form," and that of Wu as "nonbeing" should be "Being-without-form." For Zhuang Zi's consideration of the two categories corresponds to Lao Zi's in this context.




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