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Look, It Cannot be Seen by Lao Tzu


"Look, It Cannot be Seen" is a poem written by Lao Tzu that discusses Tao, translated as "the path." Tzu states that it is a mystical, formless thing which cannot be seen, heard, or held. It is not even imaginable.

This poem is made up of four stanzas. The first stanza contains four lines, the second has seven, third has three, and the final stanza has only one line. However, you could actually consider this a three stanza poem with the final line being only a statement about the writing. Tzu uses quick hitting words and phrases to hold the rhythm throughout this brilliant writing.


Look, It Cannot be Seen

Look, it cannot be seen - it is beyond form.
Listen, it cannot be heard - it is beyond sound.
Grasp, it cannot be held - it is intangible.
These three are indefinable, they are one.

From above it is not bright;
From below it is not dark:
Unbroken thread beyond description.
It returns to nothingness.
Form of the formless,
Image of the imageless,
It is called indefinable and beyond imagination.

Stand before it - there is no beginning.
Follow it and there is no end.
Stay with the Tao, Move with the present.

Knowing the ancient beginning is the essence of Tao.

Next: Tao Abides in Non-Action