An Exposition of Laozi’s “Essence of Dao” by Yun Choi Yeung

Yun Choi Yeung is from Hong Kong and has been living in the United Kingdom since October 2010. In 2015, she contributed “Enlightenment and Discernment to the blog of Quaker Universalist Fellowship, affirming that “in Quakerism, enlightenment or conversion is just the beginning of discernment.” Currently Yun is working on a biblical exposition of Laozi’s “Essence of Dao.”

An Exposition of Laozi’s “Essence of Dao” is the first part of that work.  Yun writes:

“From a monotheistic culture without direct revelation, Laozi was trying to make sense of what was going on in his time in China, when the country was divided and fighting one another. Is it the will of heaven, or it is just the corruption of humankind?

“His ideas are very interesting when compared with those of a monotheistic culture which does describe direct revelations: law given by the God without a name; spiritual communities developed by the law of the Spirit; and a new commandment to love one another according to the love of Christ.”

Laozi’s "Essence of Dao" – Chapter 1 of the excavated text of
Daodejing: Mawangdui Text A1

道可道也,非恆道也。名可名也,非恆名也。無名萬物之始也;有名萬物之母也。[故]恆無欲也,以觀其眇;恆有欲也,以觀其所噭。兩者同出,異名同胃,玄之有玄,眾眇之[門]。

Source: https://ctext.org/mawangdui/lao-zi-jia-dao-jing (accessed on 20 May 2020)

The word that can be spoken is not the eternal word; the name that can be categorized is not the eternal name. The nameless is the origin of all things, and the named gives birth to all things. Therefore, if you have no desire to understand eternity with your intellect then down to the smallest detail will be observable; if you have desire to understand eternity with your intellect then you will observe a lot of loud noises. The “have” and “have not” are different but from the same source. Eternity is mystery upon mystery; from “have” to “have not” is the door to understanding for everyone.

Read more….

Image: 畫老子騎牛 – Painting Laozi riding a cow, photo by getaiwan on flickr [Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic].

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Thanks to Mike for this post. I read the original posting by Yun Choi Yeung with interest, especially as I have often been intrigued and confused by the writing of Laozi's "Essense of the Dao." The facts Yun relates explain how his words changed through the written characters' interpretation and reinterpretation. This helped me understand more what was "his" original intent. (Even though I understand no one knows whether what writings we have in fact came from one historic individual; which similarly parallels  the Gospel of Christ as we know it today, being brought to us through many later voices; as in the words of his Disciples we find today in the Bible with many different translations.) I liked the idea of a message from Laozi being similar to that Quaker understanding of the voice of Christ or Light which is accessible to all of us through silent worship.

Thanks very much, Marcia. I will share your comment with Yun Choi Yeung.  Blessings, Mike

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