The Greatness of Everything “Tao Te Ching” verse 25 for Artists

by | Feb 5, 2015 | 2 comments

Verse 25*

There is something formlessly created
Born before Heaven and Earth
So silent! So ethereal!
Independent and changeless
Circulating and ceaseless
It can be regarded as the mother of the world
I do not know its name
Identifying it, I call it “Tao”
Forced to describe it, I call it great
Great means passing
Passing means receding
Receding means returning
Therefore the Tao is great
Heaven is great
Earth is great
The sovereign is also great
There are four greats in the universe
And the sovereign occupies one of them
Humans follow the laws of Earth
Earth follows the laws of Heaven
Heaven follows the laws of Tao
Tao follows the laws of nature
This verse,  I find is the author’s total admiration and affirmation of the “mysterious”, the greatness of Tao. As I advance slowly through interpreting Tao Te Ching verses, I start getting glimpses of the  understanding of Tao. Words and mind are indeed limiting…..


In the first part of this verse, the author seems to be showing the birth of the Earth… the existence. As words have no way of describing this, the author names it Tao and bows in front of this inexpressible greatness, realizing that everything within is perfect .


We go through life running after our goals, thoughts and judgements…. emotional ups and downs. We tend to think that life is just that; the desires and experiences we are going through. We tend to forget or ignore the most essential, that behind  life’s chatter, everything is perfect, in harmony and flawless. As a matter of fact, the chatter itself is the part of that perfection …. just like the ripples of the water on the ocean’s surface.


As I am looking at this verse through the artist’s heart/mind, once again I am seeing that in order to create (anything), one has to transcend the superficial, see the perfection of self and the surrounding world and through one’s artwork show that greatness… the mysterious Universe….
I am a Sumi-e artist. The aim of Sumi-e painting is to rather than reproducing the appearance of the subject, to capture the soul, the spirit of it….. to see it’s perfection…
How often are we aware of the greatness within and without? Maybe the answer is; “As often as we create”. Then, can we bring that awareness into our everyday lives?


  1. MT McClanahan

    "Words and mind" are limiting–what about feelings? I seem to rely heavily on how I *feel* about a situation, as opposed to the objective particulars of it. This always irritated my daughter while growing up–she would ask me for something and my answer, being based on feeling, didn't satisfy her. But if we cannot know "Tao", or God, with our words, mind or feelings, then how do we connect with it?

  2. Lilith Ohan

    Of course with feeling… expreiencially…. as long as the "feel" doesn't carry a story behind it 🙂


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