The Tao, Logos, and Christ
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word was with God in the beginning. All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it. - John 1:1-5
There is a thing inherent and natural, Which existed before heaven and earth. Motionless and fathomless, It stands alone and never changes; It pervades everywhere and never becomes exhausted. It may be regarded as the Mother of the Universe. I do not know its name. If I am forced to give it a name, I call it Tao, and I name it as supreme. - Lao Tzu
Listening to the Logos rather than to me, it is wise to agree that all things are in reality one thing and one thing only. - Hippolytus
In both the East and West philosophers, mystics, and scholars have a concept behind the whole Universe. This concept represents what moves, governs, and holds all existence together. In the East they named this concept the “Tao” meaning “The Way”. In the West they called this concept “Logos” meaning “divine mind” (loosely translated). When Jesus Christ said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6), he wasn't claiming religious supremacy as many fundamentalist would claim, he was identifying himself as the divine or “ultimate truth” the world had already been searching for.
Many Bibles in Asia translate “Word” in John 1:1-5 as “Tao”. In fact, what we translate as “Word” comes from the Greek word “Logos”, so to translate “Logos” into “Tao” in Eastern Bibles is very appropriate. As a Christian mystic, the concepts of the Tao and Logos are very important as they illustrate the eternal nature of Jesus Christ.
A Christian mystic does not look at Jesus Christ as only being a man who was born, lived, died, and was resurrected some 2,000+ years ago. Rather, we look at Christ as the essence of all things. All truth, all goodness, all virtue lived in this world is Christ’s presence. Christ’s life as a man, when “the Word became flesh”, was an inevitability as the greatest expression of the Tao/Logos is manifested through the lives of humanity.
Christ claiming himself as the Tao and Logos also give credibility to his place as the Messiah. Jesus Christ wasn’t just the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy, but also the manifestation of truth as identified by the ancient master of both the East and the West.
The difference between how the concepts of the Tao and Logos came about very much illustrate the differences between Eastern and Western thought. The Tao, which is “the Way”, centers around our emotions and actions. Writings on the Tao, like the Tao Te Ching, spend much time talking about how to control and discipline our emotions and how to act in accordance with the Tao. A person at one with the Tao would be at complete peace with himself, others, and the world around him.
The Logos, which is the “divine mind”, centers around the search for reason and clarity of mind. The Logos described a state of mind where a person can see himself and all reality without any perversion or illusion. Ancient Greek philosophers would seek to have their discussions governed by Logos as they sharpened and developed their skills of reason through discussion and debate. A person at one with Logos would be thought, not to know everything, but to clearly understand all he experiences.
Even though there is a difference in development of Tao and Logos, they both represent the search for the “ultimate truth”, and they are both pursuing the same pure understanding of reality. Most people today don’t realize that Jesus’s claims of being the “Truth” and the “Way” were as dramatic to the Greeks as his claims of being the “Messiah” were to the Jews of the time.
While evidence of Jesus’s Christ authenticity to the Jews is by prophecy. The evidence of Christ to the Gentiles was through his teachings, which demonstrated the “divine mind” of Logos. The evidence of Christ to the East is was through his life itself, which was lived as a pure manifestation of the Tao.
The philosophical implication of Christ being the Tao/Logos is that the “ultimate truth” of the Universe is also a conscience entity. It means that the Tao/Logos of the Universe interacts and reacts with us on a personal level. Every time a Christian performs an act of charity, compassion, or self-sacrifice he does so directly with the person of Christ.
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me.’ - Matthew 25:37-40
Christian mysticism is about experiencing Christ here and now in everyday life. We do not wait for Heaven or the afterlife to begin communion with God, we begin it here and that communion is extended after death.
...the truly divine God is the God who has revealed himself as logos and, as logos, has acted and continues to act lovingly on our behalf. Certainly, love transcends knowledge and is thereby capable of perceiving more than thought alone; nonetheless it continues to be love of the God who is logos. Consequently, Christian worship is worship in harmony with the eternal Word and with our reason... - Pope Benedict XVI