2 The Features of the Dao
Lao Zi's concept of the Dao serves as the keystone for his philosophy
in general, and the starting point for his doctrine of the origin of
the universe in particular. With high awareness of the duality of the
Dao, known as Being-without-form (wu) and Being-within-form (you), Lao
Zi exposes such general features as the Dao's imagelessness,
soundlessness, formlessness, vagueness and elusiveness with regard to
"the inseparable One" (i.e. the Dao) and their interactions with their
counterparts. In this section we concentrate on chapters 14, 35, 21 and
2.1 (Chapter 14)
You look at it but can not see it; It is called the imageless.
You listen to it but can not hear it; It is called the soundless.
You touch it but can not find it; It is called the formless.
These three cannot be further inquired into For they are the
The One is not bright when it is up, And not dark when it is down.
Infinite and indistinct, it cannot be named, Thus reverting to a state
This is called shape without shape, Or image without image.
It is also called the Vague and the Elusive.
When meeting it, you cannot see its head, When following it, you cannot
see its back. Hold on to the Dao of old, In order to harness
From this you may know the primeval beginning.
This is called the law of the Dao.
Tai chi, the beauty is this imageless/soundless/formless "object" you
are dealing with during your taolu's performance. As  & [9}
mention it, according to Tai Chi chuan, by seeking constantly this
"object", you will develop further perception of your surroundings as a
"door opener" of internal martial arts.
,  and  The three features of the Dao--"the imageless," "the
soundless" and "the formless"--all reflect the subtlety of the Dao that
goes beyond sensory perception.
 "The inseparable one" stands for the Dao itself. Similar terms are
used in other contexts, for instance, in chapters 22 and 39 (DDJ).
 The Dao is not manifest or visible when it is without form; it
becomes clear and perceivable when it is within form as a result of its
transformation into De. These two aspects of the Dao, like the two
sides of one coin, turn out to be identical to Being-without-form and
Being-within-form, as discussed previously with regard to the nature of
the Dao (see Part I, 1.1).
 The term "non-thingness" (wu) does not mean that there is nothing
at all. Instead it denotes a state of being without shape. In other
words, it refers to the existence of the Dao as the origin of all
things, remaining unavailable to the senses.
 The Chinese concept hu huang is translated as "the Vague and
Elusive," as two essential characteristics of the Dao. They themselves
are compatible with the indescribable and unnameable features of the
Dao (see Part I, 2.3).
 This illustrates the greatness of the Dao as it exists everywhere
or embraces all things as a whole.
 "The Dao of old" (gu zhi dao) indicates that the existence of the
Dao precedes those of all things in the world.
 Apart from this interpretation, rendered as "the law of the Dao,"
the original expression dao ji is also explained by some Lao Zi
scholars as "the foundation of the Dao."
As depicted in this chapter, the general features of the Dao appear to
be multi-dimensional. They can be generalized as imagelessness,
soundlessness, formlessness, shapelessness, vagueness, elusiveness and
namelessness. They are also described as invisibility, intangibility,
indescribability and infinity. Yet, by scrutinizing them we may
tentatively conclude that the Dao as such is characterized by these two
fundamental aspects: firstly, the non-observable aspect as implied in
"it is not bright when it is up;" that is to say, the Dao is invisible
and indistinct when it is above form. It simply transcends the
empirical and corporeal things as well as physical perception.
Secondly, the observable aspect as suggested in "it is not dark when it
is down." This means that the Dao becomes clear and manifest when it is
within form, or, in other words, when it is transformed into De. These
two aspects, non-observable and observable, could be likened somewhat
to the metaphysical and physical concepts of occidental philosophy.
The greatness or infinite nature of the Dao is revealed in the passage,
"When meeting it, you cannot see its head; when following it, you
cannot see its back." This seems at the first sight to be