Tao Te Ching 

Wholeness of Reality

Symbol for Dualism

Symbol for Dualism

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What is Oneness?

The concept of Oneness has been discussed explicitly by pre-Socratic philosophers. We have identified Oneness as the fundamental principle of Tao philosophy. With this Principle, mysteries and paradoxes of Tao philosophy can be properly understood.


Parmenides maintained that a reality is indivisible, unchanging, infinite (unbound), everywhere uniform, etc. All that exists has no beginning and has no end and is not subject to change over time. A reality must be a wholeness of “what is there.” This "what is" or the "being" is the state of Tzu-jan (自然) in Tao philosophy. The Principle of Oneness requires that all realities must retain the wholeness of Oneness.


In describing a reality, we often invoke two separate opposites to describe a reality. Although these two opposites make a whole, but the conventional notion of two separate opposites, as in dualism, violates the Principle Oneness. For example, neither body nor mind are separate reality in the description of a person. Invoking dualism is unavoidable; however, many pitfalls must be avoided.

The Principle of Oneness

How can we maintain reality when we describe a reality with two opposites? It is clear that these two opposites cannot be two separate realities. Our formulation shows that Oneness can be preserved when the two conventional opposites are properly superimposed to preserve Oneness of reality.

When a reality manifests in two modes, each mode of manifestation (or appearance) of a reality, properly constructed, must itself be a reality. All manifestations of a reality must have Oneness. This is the Principle of Oneness.  In general, reality may have many manifestations to us, but each manifestation is a manifest of the whole. All manifestations describe the same reality. This is reflected in Chapter 1 of the Tao Te Ching.

We have formulated a process to retain reality in appearances. The formulation is discussed in The Basic Theory of Tao and The The Principle of Oneness and Field-Being Philosophy.

Key Words and References

Key Words

Oneness in Tao Philosophy

Chapter 1 of the Tao Te Ching shows how the conventional objects wu and yu are entangled to preserve the Oneness of Tao. Preserving Oneness in appearances is the fundamental teaching of Tao. Every reality, similar to a being of Parmenides, should have Oneness and we should live at the reality level. This is the Principle of Oneness in Tao Philosophy. Tao is the Way of Oneness.

Oneness in Greek Philosophy

Oneness is similar to the Being (What-Is) in the Greek philosophy. As emphasized by Parmenides, we should only pursue what really exists. Parmenides has indeed described the equivalences of Wu and Yu in Greek philosophy.

Oneness in Buddhist Philosophy

The ultimate Oneness is the described in the Heart Sutra, where emptiness is appearances and appearances are emptiness - as a complete state of Oneness.