The way that can be spoken of is not the constant way;
The name that can be named is not the constant name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth;
The named is the mother of the myriad things.
Therefore, by always remaining free of desire you can observe its secrets;
While by always remaining full of desire, you can observe its manifestations.
The two emerge from the same source,
But they have different names;
Call them both mysteries;
Mystery upon mystery;
The gateway to all secrets.
We live in a world of abundant choices: one in which you only have to pick up your smart phone to be deluged with a torrent of advice on which hip new restaurants you should eat in, which hot new careers you should aim for, and which fashionable values you should ascribe to.
With such a wealth of options available, it’s very tempting to follow the paths that others urge you to take in order to achieve eternal wealth, health, and happiness rather than carve out one for yourself. But given the speed with which the world is changing as a result of the relentless advance of technology, the chances are that many of the brightly-signposted paths that look so alluring today will taper out into nothing.
The way doesn’t promise to lead you a pot of gold at the end the end of the rainbow. Laozi doesn’t even know its true name and in Chapter 1 of the Daodejing can only describe it in the most ambiguous terms as a “mystery upon mystery; the gateway to all secrets.”
Rather, by liberating you from the shackles of orthodox thinking and the constraints of language, the way provides you with the means to intimately understand and experience the world and get the most out of your journey through life.
The way doesn’t compel you to follow it; nor does it provide you with a fancy app that you can download onto your phone to speed up your progress. To tap into its unlimited potential, you simply have to clear your mind so that you can immerse yourself in the natural world around you and open your heart to its hidden power.