The Tao that can be told
The name that can be named 
is not the eternal Tao
is not the eternal Name.

The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.

Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.

Darkness within darkness. 
The gateway to all understanding


In few simple phrases the Tao Te Ching (Daodejing, The Book of Tao and Virtue) says all that can be said, and all that cannot be said, about everything that exists, and about everything that does not exist.

The Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing) is a short text of about 5000 characters composed of 81 chapters historically attributed to Lao Tzu, believed born around 570 BC, and his disciple Chuang Tzu. Actually it is considered that it was composed by at least five visionaries, including at least two women, in a period between 700 and 400 BC

It is to be regarded as one of the greatest gifts to humanity.
A stone sculpture of Lao Tzu, located north of Quanzhou at the foot of Mount Qingyuan
"According to legend, Lao Tzu was keeper of the imperial archives in what is now China,  under the Chou dynasty, about twenty-six centuries ago. During a period of disorder and chaos, he decided to abandon civilization and go live alone in the mountains. When he arrived at the gate, on the back of an ox, he was stopped by a guard. The man, learned the intentions of Lao Tzu, asked him to leave some lessons in writing, to the benefit of others. And so the story goes, came to light the Tao Te Ching"
(B.B. Walker)

Confucius and Lao Tzu were contemporaries, these are his words to his disciples after a meeting:
"I know that the birds have wings to fly, I know that fish have fins for swimming and wildlife animals have legs to run. For the legs there are traps, for fins the networks and for the wings the arrows. But who knows how dragons make to ride the winds and clouds to ascend to the sky?
Today I saw Lao Tzu and he is a dragon. "
(W. Bynner) 

Note: the english translation here used is the one by Stephen Mitchell

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1. The world is everything that is the case.
1.1 The world is the totality of facts, not of things.
1.11 The world is determined by the facts, and by their being all the facts.
1.12 For the totality of facts determines what is the case, and also whatever is not the case.
1.13 The facts in logical space are the world.
1.2 The world divides into facts.
1.21 Each item can be the case or not the case while everything else remains the same.

2. What is the case, the fact, is the existence of atomic facts.

3. The logical picture of the facts is the thought.

4. The thought is the significant proposition.

5. Propositions are truth-functions of elementary propositions.
(An elementary proposition is a truth-function of itself.)

6. The general form of truth-function is: [ p-bar ,  xi-bar , N( xi-bar )]. 
This is the general form of proposition.

7. Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

The decimal figures as numbers of the separate propositions indicate the logical importance of the propositions, the emphasis laid upon them in my exposition. The propositions n.1, n.2, n.3, etc., are comments on proposition N° n; the propositions n.m1, n.m2, etc., are comments on the proposition N° n.m; and so on. [N.d.W]

The "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus" by Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889 - 1951), written at age 29 in the summer of 1918, can be considered as the western counterpart of the Tao Te Ching.
This is understandable when one consider that both are fundamental texts of science, a term that derives from the Latin scientia, or co-knowledge. There are two possible directions for those who want to do science, that is to know: one is toward the inner world, the other to the outside world.
The first was pursued in the East, and has among its peaks of thought and description  the Tao Te Ching.
The second was followed in the West, leading to what is commonly called modern science from 1600 to today, of which the Tractatus can be considered one of the logical and philosophical bases.
Both texts express, in their two own and specific languages,  one eastern and the other modern western, all that can be said, and all that can not be said, about everything that exists, and about everything that does not exist.

Preface of the Author

This book will perhaps only be understood by those who have themselves already thought the thoughts which are expressed in it - or similar thoughts. it is therefore not a text-book. Its object would be attained if it afforded pleasure to one who read it with understanding.
The book deals with the problems of philosophy and shows, as I believe, that the method of formulating these problems rests on the misunderstanding of the logic of our language. Its whole meaning could be summed up somewhat as follows: What can be said at all can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent.
The book will, therefore, draw a limit to thinking, or rather - not to thinking, but to the expression of thoughts; for, in order to draw a limit to thinking we should have to be able to think both sides of this limit (we should therefore have to be able to think what cannot be thought).
The limit can, therefore, only be drawn in language and what lies on the other side of the limit will be simply nonsense.
How far my efforts agree with those of other philosophers I will not decide. Indeed what I have here written makes no claim to novelty in points of detail; and therefore I give no sources, because it is indifferent to me whether what I have thought has already been thought before my by another.
I will only mention that to the great works of Frege and the writings of my friend Bertrand Russell I owe in large measure the stimulation of my thoughts.
If this work has a value it consists in two things. First that in it thoughts are expressed, and this value will be the greater the better the thoughts are expressed. the more the nail has been hit on the heard. - Here I am conscious that I have fallen far short of the possible. Simply because my powers are insufficient to cope with the task. -- May others come and do it better.
On the other hand the truth of the thoughts communicated here seems to me unassailable and definitive. I am, therefore, of the opinion that the problems have in essentials been finally solved. And if I am not mistaken in this, then the value of this work secondly consists in the fact that it shows how little has been done when these problems have been solved.

L. W. - Wien, 1918

Chapel for Ascension Parish Burial Ground - Huntingdon Road - Cambridge, UK

The end of Tractatus coincides with the beginning of the Tao Te Ching and outlines the separation between "external" western science - founded on the principle of objectivity -, of which one can speak - and speaking exactly - and "internal" eastern science - founded on the principle of subjectivity, of which it is impossible ti speak, since "the Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao" and "the name that can be named is not the eternal name":

4.11    The totality of true propositions is the total natural science (or the totality of the natural sciences).

4.111    Philosophy is not one of the natural sciences.

(The word "philosophy" must mean something which stands above or below, but not beside the natural sciences.)

4.112   The object of philosophy is the logical clarification of thoughts.
Philosophy is not a theory but an activity.
A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations.
The result of philosophy is not a number of "philosophical propositions", but to make propositions clear.
Philosophy should make clear and delimit sharply the thoughts which otherwise are, as it were, opaque and blurred.
4.113    Philosophy limits the disputable sphere of natural science.
4.114    It should limit the thinkable and thereby the unthinkable.
It should limit the unthinkable from within through the thinkable.
4.115    It will mean the unspeakable by clearly displaying the speakable.
4.116    Everything that can be thought at all can be thought clearly. Everything that can be said can be said clearly.

5.61    Logic fills the world: the limits of the world are also its limits.

We cannot therefore say in logic: This and this there is in the world, that there is not.

For that would apparently presuppose that we exclude certain possibilities, and this cannot be the case since otherwise logic must get outside the limits of the world: that is, if it could consider these limits from the other side also.
What we cannot think, that we cannot think: we cannot therefore say what we cannot think.

6.5    For an answer which cannot be expressed the question too cannot be expressed.

The riddle does not exist.
If a question can be put at all, then it can also be answered.
6.52  We feel that even if all possible scientific questions be answered, the problems of life have still not been touched at all. Of course there is then no question left, and just this is the answer.

6.521    The solution of the problem of life is seen in the vanishing of this problem.

(Is not this the reason why men to whom after long doubting the sense of life became clear, could not then say wherein this sense consisted?)
6.522    There is indeed the inexpressible. This shows itself; it is the mystical.

6.53    The right method of philosophy would be this: To say nothing except what can be said, i.e. the propositions of natural science, i.e. something that has nothing to do with philosophy: and then always, when someone else wished to say something metaphysical, to demonstrate to him that he had given no meaning to certain signs in his propositions. This method would be unsatisfying to the other - he would not have the feeling that we were teaching him philosophy - but it would be the only strictly correct method.
6.54    My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.)
He must surmount these propositions; then he sees the world rightly. 

7.    Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

The Tao that can be told
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Tao
is not the eternal Name.

The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.

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