Lu Tung-pin (755 – 805 CE) was a scholar, poet and student of the inner life who is considered one of the ‘Eight Immortals’ of the Taoist tradition. Taoism sets more importance on realising the Now than on forms and conventions, as the first poem below implies. As for what the ‘Tao’ is, the subject of the second poem, the word means literally ‘the Way’, but like Sufis feeling unable to define the Divine Presence in names and forms, Taoists always put the Tao beyond explanation.
People may sit till the cushion is worn through,
But never quite know the real Truth:
Let me tell about the ultimate Tao:
It is here, enshrined within us.
* * *
What is Tao?
It is just this.
It cannot be rendered into speech.
If you insist on an explanation,
This means exactly this.
Translations by T. C. Lai