The Dào Part 01

daoism for dummies Jun 26, 2024

This is the Chinese character for Dào (Tao), ,

When you separate the two pars you can see a symbol for the head, , and a symbol for walking on a path, .

Pīnyīn is a system that romanizes Chinese characters and makes it easier to learn and pronounce Chinese words using the Latin alphabet.

Pīnyīn was officially adopted by the People’s Republic of China in 1958. Pīnyīn has become the global standard for teaching and learning Chinese. It helps with pronunciation, tones, and reading, making Chinese more accessible to non-native speakers. For people who don't speak Chinese speaking people like myself, it makes it easier to read street signs and have an idea of where I am going.

Dào is the pīnyīn spelling for ,

Spelling it as 'Tao' comes from the Wade-Giles system, which was developed in the mid-nineteenth century and finalized in 1892 but the pronunciation is expected to remain the same.

Regardless of which romanization system is used, Dào is expected to be pronounced 'Dow.'

The definition of Dào can be grouped into five categories:

  1. Way; road; path: Dào can refer to a literal road or path, indicating a physical route one might take. Metaphorically, it suggests a journey or a course of action in life. It embodies the idea of a path to follow, a direction in which one moves to achieve a goal or reach a destination. This concept can be applied to both tangible journeys and the intangible paths we take in personal growth or achieving objectives.

  2. Truth; principle; reason: Dào signifies fundamental truths or principles that underlie all existence. It represents the essence of the ultimate reason behind everything. This meaning of Dào emphasizes understanding the deeper aspects of life and the universe that go beyond surface-level techniques and skills. It is about grasping the core principles that govern actions and events, highlighting a pursuit of wisdom and profound knowledge.

  3. Skill; method: Dào also refers to a specific method or skill, particularly one that leads to success or mastery in a particular field. This definition implies that there are systematic ways or techniques to achieve certain results. In broader terms, it suggests that there are methods to effectively manage or accomplish tasks, whether in personal endeavors, business, or governance. Understanding Dào in this context is about learning and applying the right approach to attain desired outcomes.

  4. Ethics; morality: Dào can represent the natural order or moral laws that govern the universe. This interpretation emphasizes the inherent laws and principles that maintain balance and harmony in the world. It suggests that humans, the earth, and the heavens are all interconnected and follow a natural order that is self-sustaining and self-regulating. In this sense, Dào is about living by these universal laws, adhering to ethical standards, and maintaining moral integrity.

  5. Say; speak; talk: Dào can also mean to speak or express. This includes not only the act of speaking but also conveying names, words, and teachings. It encompasses the idea of communication and the transmission of knowledge and wisdom. Moreover, it implies that true understanding and enlightenment can often go beyond spoken words. It highlights the importance of both verbal and non-verbal communication in teaching and learning, suggesting that the essence of Dào can be understood through silent contemplation and inner realization as well.

The five meanings of Dào are connected: To follow the Way means following teachings as they're spoken, living by ethics and morality, and mastering skills and methods.

Dào represents the flow of everything in the universe, all-encompassing and self-sufficient. It's sacred to create life and nurture everything. It's not personal and goes beyond specific places or things. Even emptiness is part of the Dào.

Because it is like a guide that shows 'the way' each person should live.

I learned this information from my teacher Deng-Ming Dao
You can view his website HERE


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