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The Tao Teh King: A Short Study in Comparative Religion, by C. Spurgeon Medhurst, [1905], at

p. 24


Looked for but invisible—it may be named 'colorless.' 1

Listened for, but inaudible—it may be named 'elusive.' 2

Clutched at but unattainable—it may be named 'subtile.' 3

These three cannot be unraveled by questioning, for they blend into one. 4

Neither brighter above, nor darker below.

Its line, though continuous, is nameless, and in that it reverts to vacuity.

It may be styled 'The form of the formless;' 'The image of the imageless;' in a word—'The indefinite. 5

Go in front of it and you will discover no beginning; follow after and you will perceive no ending.' 6

Students may consult The Chinese Recorder for 1886, which contains an article by Rev. J. Edkins, D. D., entitled, "On the Words I, Hi, Wei, in the Tau Teh King." Also an essay by the same writer in The China Review, vol. xiii. Also Victor von Straus’ Tau-tê-King in loc.

p. 25

Lay hold of this ancient doctrine; apply it in controlling the things of the present day, 7 you will then understand how from the first it has been the origin of everything. 8

Here, indeed, is the clue to the Tao. 9

Every name of God and each attribute are but shadows of the Reality, limited manifestations of the Limitless, as time is an attribute of Eternity, mind an attribute of Consciousness, flame an attribute of Fire. "Dwelling in light unapproachable" is Paul's description. (I Tim. vi, 16.)


24:1 Because in It all colors are equalized.

24:2 Because in It all sounds are harmonized.

24:3 Within It is all Form, yet It is formless.

24:4 Three metaphysical hypostases, but one in essence, the unit of all consciousnesses, personified by the Hindus as Ishvara. The passage bears a close resemblance to Mesopotamian thought. The idea of a trinity in unity is a conception common to all religions, ancient or modern. Without the concrete ideas of substance, life and motion even an abstract concept of the Divine is impossible.

24:5 Cf. the Akhmin Codex, translated in "Fragments of a Faith Forgotten," by G. R. S. Mead, p. 585.

24:6 Cf. the Hindu Shloka quoted by Mrs. Besant in "Four Great Religions," p. 19—"When there is no darkness, neither day nor night, neither being nor non-being, there is Shiva alone. He is indestructible. He is to be adored by Savitri, from him alone comes forth the ancient wisdom. Not above, nor below, nor in the midst can he be comprehended, nor is there any similitude for him whose name is infinite glory. Not by the sight is established p. 25 his form; none beholds him by the eye. Those who know him by the heart and the mind, dwelling in the heart, become immortal."

25:7 "Employ the ancient doctrine of non-attachment to action, to govern the present period of continuous action."—Tung-tei-ning.

25:8 Of the evil as well as of the good. Cf. Isa. xlv, 7. Amos. iii, 6.

25:9 viz. Building the invisible into the visible. Said a Christian writer in the Middle Ages, "Praying will either make a man leave off sinning, or sinning will make a man leave off praying."

Next: Chapter XV