Chapter One: Excerpt
After searching through the whole Tao Te Ching, we finally discover the structure of the first Chapter. Historically, there are several textual variations of Chapter One. Our new textual arrangement can identify clearly the keywords and the logic structure in this chapter. We propose the following arrangement based on the Mawangdui and Wang-Bi texts, and divide this Chapter into five verses: (Draft Only)
1. Tao may be spoken of, but it is not the Heng Tao;
Name may be described, but it is not the Heng Name.
2. Wu is the beginning of the myriad things;
Yu is the mother of the myriad things.
In Heng Wu, it shows subtle appearance (of the myriad things);
In Heng Yu, it shows disappearance (of the myriad things).
4. Both appear simultaneously, as different manifestations of the same.
5. It is mystery upon mystery, and this is the gateway to all mysteries.
First of all, the major difference in the above textual arrangement is the recognition of the concept of Heng 恆. This word (Heng) was changed to Chang 常 when Liu Heng became the emperor of Han dynasty (180-157 bce). Our conclusion is independent of such a textual change.
We find that Heng is a critical keyword in the logic of Tao philosophy. In fact, it is this concept of Heng (as a whole) in the first chapter that brings out clearly the logical structure of Tao philosophy. Heng is a concept of wholeness that is beyond the designated differentiation of Wu and Yu in the phenomenal world.