Tao is referred to in many ways in the Tao Te Ching. There are different shades of meanings in the various translations of this great work, which, with over 100 translations, is perhaps the most translated Chinese text in the English language. Here is one translation of the first stanza, describing Tao:
The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao;
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name;
this appears as darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery.
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