Original Meaning of Dao

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Daoist Beliefs
The Great Dao
Original Meaning of Dao
Laozi's Creative Use of The Concept of Dao
The Main Meaning of the Concept of Dao
The Major Functions of Dao
Virtue
The Significance of Virtue
Expression of the Unity of Dao and Virtue
Becoming an Immortal by Attaining
Dao is ruled by Spontaneity
The Significance of Spontaneity
Observing the Way of Heaven and Following its Motions
Cosmogony
Cosmogony
The Creation of the World
Formation of the Daoist Theory of Universal Evolution
The Process of The Creation of the World
The Thirty-six Heavens
The Netherworld
Yin-Yang and the Supreme Ultimate
Yin-Yang and the Supreme Ultimate
Vital Breath
The Infinite and the Supreme Ultimate
The Infinite
The Supreme Ultimate and the Diagram of the Supreme Ultimate
Yin-Yang and the Five Agents
Social Ideals
Social Ideals
The Ideal of Supreme Peace
Purity, Tranquility and Non-interference
Salvation of Humanity
Philosophy of Life
Understanding Dao and Establishing Virtue
Education by Daoist Enlightenment
Ethical Education and Practise
Ethical Education and Practise
Accumulation of Hidden Merits
The Secret Meaning of Karma
Norms for Doing Good Works
Methods of Doing Good Works

'Dao' is a concept which appeared very early on; however, initially it was not a philosophical notion.

Originally, 'Dao' Referred to the Way Tread by People

The ancient dictionary Explanations to the Chinese Characters ( 說文解字 Shuowen Jiezi ) defines Dao as the way or raod along which one walks. There are many kinds of roads, such as branching roads and roads going in all directions, but only roads leading in a single, definite direction can be called 'Dao'. This original meaning was then extended to include the notions of 'rule' or 'law'. For example, the movement of the heavens follows regular laws, and is thus called the 'Dao (Way) of Heaven' ( 天道 Tiandao ). During the Spring and Autumns era, there was the saying 'The Way of Heaven is bright, and as regular as the Sun and Moon'. This meant that the movement of the heavens was very clear and could be observed through the movement of the Sun and Moon. Thus the ancient notion of the Way of Heaven acquired the abstract significance of 'law'. The term 'Dao of Heaven' gradually became a rich concept, until it lost its original meaning and came to designate natural laws and principles.