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There is a primal essence that is all-inclusive and undifferentiated and which existed before there was any appearance of heaven and earth. How tranquil and empty it is! How self-sufficing and changeless! How omnipresent and infinite! Yet this tranquil emptiness becomes the Mother of all. Who knows its name? I can only characterize it and call it TAO. Though it is quite inadequate, I will even call it the Great. But how boundless is its Greatness! It stretches away into the far distances (like a circle) only to return again.

How Great is TAO! But so is Heaven Great; and

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so is earth Great; and so is the perfect Sage Great. On the earth there are these four Greatnesses and among them is the perfect Sage. Men act in conformity with the laws of earth; earth acts in conformity with the laws of Heaven; Heaven acts in conformity with the laws of TAO; TAO acts in accordance with its own self-nature.

Next: Chapter 26