Dao De ... What?!

Dao De ... What?!

The first chapter of the Dao De Jing reads:

 

The way you can go

Isn’t the real way.

The name you can name

Isn’t the real name.


Heaven and earth

Begin in the unnamed:

Name is the mother

Of the ten thousand things.


So the unwanting soul

Sees what’s hidden,

And the ever-wanting soul

Sees only what it wants.


Two things, one origin,

But different in name,

Whose identity is mystery.

Mystery of all mysteries!

The door to the hidden.

 

   This passage is from my favorite translation of the Dao De Jing, by Ursula K. Le Guin, and it is as Ursula describes it, “satisfactory.” Meaning, this chapter is exceptionally challenging to translate. It describes the nature of paradox itself.

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   The Dao De Jing (also written as Tao Te Ching) is a beloved classic of China, traditionally credited to the 6th-century BC sage Lao Tzu. It was first translated in English in 1868 and has been translated into Western languages over 250 times. Translating Chinese is incredibly dynamic because it’s a pictographic language. Chinese characters are often comprised of multiple characters, each stacked with layers of meaning, carefully nestled into complex folds of context, dating back to agricultural China.

 

   Dao De Jing roughly translates to the “Classic of the Virtuous Way.” The Dao is the name that you cannot name; the way that you cannot ... weigh? The moment you describe the Dao, you’ve missed it. It is the way that cannot be captured and cannot be reduced to a single definition.


   Previous to embarking upon my study of Acupuncture Medicine, I had almost zero knowledge or interest in Asian anything (other than food). Just as with anything, my initial disinterest (even aversion), was simply a matter of learning how to see. 

   i.e. I spent years learning anatomy. I had to learn how to see posture and muscular imbalance in the body in order to be able to see it. I did learned how to see it and now, I can watch someone walk by and accurately predict where their chronic aches and pains will be located based on how they move. And, if you were to ask me if I saw a make and model of a certain car drive by, I’d be like, “Uhhh... the blue one?!”

   It’s the same as with anything else: we see what we’re learned to perceive; we see what we have language to describe.  

 

   At the beginning of this year, 2018, I knew nothing about Chinese anything, and as I’ve spent the last year learning how to perceive Chinese Medicine, I’ve fallen in love. It’s beautiful. It’s dynamic. It’s holographic. And, it’s meaningFULL.

  

   The Classics of Chinese Medicine were all stroked thousands of years ago in a pictographic language. They describe a complex system of medicine via poetry and prose. Without doing your due diligence of learning about the context, it sounds like superstitious crap. This is where Western doctors (yes, I’m generalizing) have failed; they have failed to explore the prose and expand into the substance of the theory.


   It was not until I studied deeper that I learned that using the western anatomical word “spleen” is a misnomer in describing the Chinese-Spleen channel/organ. The ancient Chinese practitioners never called this meridian “The Spleen Channel”, they called it “The Foot Tai Yin Channel.” It was only by way of an (un)satisfactory translation that English-speaking practitioners ended up calling it The Spleen Channel. In reality, the duties of the Chinese-Spleen organ are more accurately described by the western physiological actions of the hormone, serotonin. And, the Chinese-Liver organ is in charge of a lot of the functions that the anatomical-spleen organ performs. The medicine is rich with these types of translatory snafus. 


The way you can go

Isn’t the real way.

The name you can name

Isn’t the real name.


Heaven and earth

Begin in the unnamed:

Name is the mother

Of the ten thousand things.


   I struggled long and hard, for many years, in naming my business. My first iteration was simply called “Massage and Yoga Vermont.” While brilliant for my SEO, the name became inadequate as my skills and offerings grew and expanded, and eventually the brand became completely irrelevant as I closed my massage practice in Vermont and moved to New York City.


   From there I tried on, “In Your Skyn,” as a tribute to body positivity. It was kind of weird and usually evoked the comment, “Like the condom?” Ha! It wasn’t quite right. Then I tried on, “In Body OM,” as a tribute to both my roots in yoga and in Orgasmic Meditation. Nah... that one didn’t feel right either, especially as I began to intentionally separate myself from associating with the company which pedals OM. With each attempt at naming my business, I became more and more frustrated, feeling as though no brand could possibly capture the myriad of things I have to offer as a healer, teacher, and Soulful individual.


   It was when I took my East Asian Philosophy class in Acupuncture school that I discovered, (gasp!) “I think I’m a secret Daoist!” And it has been such a gift to my Heart and Mind to discover an entire body of philosophy based on paradox and rooted in being a good person through the smallest of daily actions and non-actions. 


   So there it is. Dao De Hannah Lynn is a tribute to the Dao De Jing and a nod to Daoism. It’s “The Virtuous Way of Hannah Lynn.” I cannot guarantee you that my virtues are the same as your virtues. Indeed, I revel in the shadowy parts of the human condition and many among us can’t (or won’t) hang in that spot. I’m not saying I’m right, but I’m right for me; and landing in that spot is a goddamn breath of fresh air.


   Here’s to a brand as paradoxical as I am, a brand which yearns for context in order to paint itself into something meaningful, a brand which leaves room for me to constantly contradict myself.

 

My new custom Logo, courtesy of  AZ Designs .

My new custom Logo, courtesy of AZ Designs.

It’s a nod to the paradoxical nature of the Yin, the Yang, and the Dao with a hearty infusion of Dandelion medicine, who’s super power is adaptability. 

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