Tao by Matsumoto

Taoism videos / Chapter 6 A.

Key Chinese characters


<POINT> Lao Tzu declares clearly that it is useless to give a name to a thing. (☞See Chapter 1)

Valley God: 谷神 ([gŭ shén] in Chinese, [koku shin] in Japanese).


Emptiness: 空 ([kōng] in Chinese; [ku] in Japanese).


Lao Tzu: 老子([ro shi] in Japanese).


Tao Te Ching: 道徳経 ([do toku kyo] in Japanese).


Dark Depth Female: 玄牝 ([xuán pìn] in Chinese and [gen pi; gen pin] in Japanese).

See below for detailed information. Other Chinese words are also explained.

Why do words not have a true meaning?

The answer is that everything is one. No matter how many words we invent, they point out the same thing.

Valley God exists any time anywhere.

This is called Dark Depth Female.

谷神 ([gŭ shén] in Chinese, [koku shin] in Japanese / Hopefully, your browser can show the characters correctly. / 谷 [gŭ; koku] means "valley". 神 [shén; shin] means "god, spirit")


Some people call it Valley Spirit. Here, it is called Valley God. It doesn't matter what you call it unless it signifies emptiness.

The Chinese character 谷 [gŭ; koku] is interesting. The upper part a little looks like a person with the two legs apart, and the lower square symbolizes a mouth. It normally means a valley, but in Taoism it often suggests emptiness.


Emptiness in Chinses charater is 空 ([kōng] in Chinese; [ku] in Japanese), which is one of the most difficult concept to comprehend in Zen Buddhism. It means the sky as well.

If you say true emptiness 真空 ([zhēng kōng] in Chinese; [shin ku] in Japanese), it means vacuum.

As scientists suggest, vacuum is not static. One can detect energy there. Vacuum is full of energy.

Vacuum, the true emptiness, is not empty at all.

It sounds quite similar to "Colour is empty. Emptiness is colour" in Buddhism. (色即是空。空即是色。[Siki soku ze ku. Ku soku ze siki.] in Japanese. "Colour is justly equal to emptiness. Emptiness is justly equal to colour").

«Tao > Science»

Some want to precipitate to the conclusion, "mmm, that is Tao. It is the energy detectable in vacuum".

This is kind of a trap. If you think Tao exists in the world detectable by science, you are not totally mistaken, but you will have difficulty in accepting it completely.

On the other hand, if you think Tao is bigger than science, it is easier. Then, you can think that science is not something absolute and its framework is just an idea, not even a hologram.

We don't have to be afraid of objectivity. Who told you that we have just the one and only objective world?

«Tao = Dark Depth»

Lao Tzu 老子 didn't name his book. Tao Te Ching 道徳経 is just the way people call it. The first volume begins with the character 道 Tao and the second one with 徳. That's why they call it Tao Te Ching or Dao De Jing.

Plus, we are not sure that Lao Tzu was a true historic figure who really lived. It could be a name for collective thoughts in old China. So, it is nothing surprising that many terms are used to describe the non-describable concept of Tao.

[hsüan; xuán] or [gen] is often used to suggest Tao. It means something deep or dark or both. It is translated here as Dark Depth.

«Dark Depth Female»

玄牝 [xuán pìn] in Chinese and [gen pi; gen pin] in Japanese. 牝 [pìn] means female. (☞ See Chapter 10e Dark Depth Female)

If you imagine a female genital organ, you can see the similitude to a bellows. Lao Tzu uses this metaphor to suggest holography.

Besides, to change your reality (=hologram), a female-like passivity is, in fact, quite active a way to influence it. This is act without acting.


天下[tiān xià] in Chinese and [ten ka] in Japanese. It literally means "under the sky", but signifies the world.

It is a key to understand Taoism. If you accept the idea that the world is yourhologram, everything is going to be very easy.

Dogen uses the expression 山河大地 ([san ga dai chi] in Japanese / mountains, rivers, the land). It expresses holography.

  [Related Articles]


When one explains how Tao and Zen functions in an Indo-European language such as English, he cannot help facing the existence / contradiction of the subject in a sentence. He has to talk about the non-existence of Self, relying on a language that requires him to use the very symbol of Self, which is "I". You do not necessarily use a subject in a Japanese sentence. Am I asking you too much if I say: "Why don't you learn Japanese to 'comprehend' Zen"?

-In Chapter 10b Mirror of Dark Depth, 玄覽 R2D2 and Princess Leia are also mentioned. In Zen 禅, the metaphor of a mirror 鏡 is adored.  An enlightened man with Satori 悟り can get lost like a broken mirror. You might think that this is about the fragility of Satori. It is not. It means Satori is always there with you. So is Tao. You don't need thousands of explanations. You are Tao. Don't worry. Just live it.

-Chapter 6 Valley God

-Chapter 6b Male and Female; Life’s a prayer wheel

Quick guide > Tao Te Ching translation > Chapter 6 > A. Key Chinese characters

« Previous                              Quick guide                                  Next »

  [Chapter 6 Valley God]  A. Key Chinese characters

Need help?

Q: "I am frustrated! Will Tao help me?"

A: Why don't you think the other way round?

Reverse Thinking

Q: "I am not happy about how I look. Do I need a cosmetic surgery?"

A: Before you invest a hefty sum of money on your appearance, there are a few things to think about.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall

Q: "I am scared of seeing my reports. What’s gonna happen if the numbers are not good enough"

A: Zen Masters asks you to forget about statistics.

No Numbers

Q: "We need to change our way to grow foods. I am worried about the future of my children. What should we do?"

A: If you are interested in organic foods, read about the modern-day Lao Tzu of “Do nothing” farming, late Masanobu Fukuoka.

Tao Agriculture

Q: "I am desperate. I need some solutions right away."

A: No worries. Here is a practical method.

10 points to be One with Tao

Q: "I am confused when people tell me to face reality. What is reality?"

A: A good question! Zen masters have been tackling the question for ages, but our old man, Lao Tzu, knows the answer.

No Absolute Truth