Tao Te Ching Chapter One
The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao,
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
Nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth;
Named is the mother of myriad things.
Without desire observe the mysterious,
With desire contemplate the manifestations.
These two things are similar,
Only differing names for the profound.
Obscure and profound; (there will be) numerous mysterious gates.
[Translated by Allan Lian]
Without direct experience and spiritual clarity, scholars would have their work cut out to relate to the eternal Tao told by the three great ancient sages, Laozi, Confucius, and the Buddha; let alone by the Holy Sages who wrote the Book of Changes.
The Tao Te Ching tells of the wonders, mystery, obscurity, and profoundness of Tao; and how to return.
The guidance provided by Laozi in Chapter one - which leads to seeing the mysterious gates - deals with the elementary level and lays the foundation on which top scholars build upon.
Since several renowned Zhen Ren (realized persons) of the past in their writings had concentrated on providing vital information on more advance experiential levels of the Circulation of the Light practice. Except for the substantive citations of ancient classics and texts, much of the revelation provided for the last five verses have probably not appeared in any writings or online discussions before.
And it is for discerning readers to decide if the Tao about to be told is really the eternal Tao or not:
Theories still abound as to what the mysterious is, how it can be seen, and why it can only be observed without desire. The diligent practice of the Circulation of the Light would provide the answers to all these questions. Why?
Because when the mind is empty and the heart still during its meditation; there is no desire (or intent). Whatever phenomena that appear or disappear come naturally. Nothing can hasten the progress.
The only requirement is that the top scholar has the ability to see the Light. Since this experiential ability while elementary is fundamental to the entire Circulation of the Light practice. As the Light circulates together with the Qi (breath) by and by the mysterious would appear for observation.
Therefore without desire observe the mysterious.
When the mysterious manifests for observation, the top scholar needs to determine by contemplating whether or not they are real, lest it leads to delusion.
Delusion constitutes a major hindrance and a constant danger to those who cultivate Tao. So much so that Laozi, the Buddha, and Lu Dongbin had issued warnings on delusions in their respective writings or teachings. Only the delusional or the misled would cling to a ‘phenomenon’ such as sudden enlightenment.
To avoid delusions, it would be advisable for top scholars to crosscheck experiences and various manifestations with the Book of Changes, Tao Te Ching, Shurangama Sutra (Lengyan Ching), the Secret of the Golden Flower, and the texts written by renowned Zhen Ren who became celestial immortals (or Buddhas).
Therefore with desire contemplate the manifestations.
Whether or not scholars know it, the mysterious and the manifestations are similar.
In the Heart Sutra, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva or Guan Yin propounds the by now famous statement that ‘Form is emptiness and emptiness is form’. While this profound statement relates to a more advance experiential level, it provides a good relevant example.
Yin Yang quite often sounds mysterious to many but not to the esoteric, Form and Emptiness is easier to understand, while the Dark and the Light – the eternal duality of nature - is the easiest to know. Therefore the words of Laozi are very easy to understand and very easy to put into practice. Why?
Because Daoist scholars are steep in the knowledge of Yin Yang, while Buddhist scholars contemplate on Form and Emptiness and can talk about the subject for days on end. Yijing and Confucian scholars deal with the Dark and the Light each time they read the Book of Changes or divine. And many scholars are knowledgeable about Change.
Yet if subjected to the real test, most of these scholars - except for the top few - would be hard put to observe these particular phenomena and their changes.
Profundity arises where Change reverts with ease and within an instant.
Therefore they are only differing names for the profound.
After the observation of the mysterious and the contemplation of manifestations, which form part and parcel of the magical far journey, mysterious gates would appear during the Circulation of the Light meditation.
The mysterious gate is subtle, obscure and has no fixed location, and can be easily missed. Just as sudden as it appears, it would soon disappear. Is this age old phenomenon not other than profound?
Scholars and translators often say that there is just one mysterious gate, while the first class scholars of Tao have had sighted more.
Therefore obscure and profound, there will be numerous mysterious gates.
In conclusion, when scholars of Tao can empty their minds and still their hearts with the Circulation of the Light, they are practising the Return. Having attained the ability to see the Light during its meditation, sooner or later the mysterious will manifest for observation and for contemplation. Much later, obscure and profound mysterious gates will appear. (Numeric and time frames are not given to avoid plagiarism.)
Since Laozi had not written on entering the mysterious gate(s) and Zhuangzi did not elaborate on how Guang Zhenzi can enter the gates with ease. And with the Buddha only providing subtle hints to his disciples in the Shurangama Sutra which would eventually enable the entry to these mysterious gates. In accord with established order of the ancients, there will be no revelation on how to make that particular entrance.
So there you go! Penetrating (Tong) the last five verses of Chapter One and ancient classics could be something like this.
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