In 1823 the first translation into a Western language of Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching was published by the French author, Abel Remusat. He made this ancient Chinese text known to the Western world, and since then, an almost unending stream of translations and commentaries have been produced in attempts to make its brief but very profound contents intelligible for Western people.
Nevertheless, as far as we know, there has never been a commentary on the Tao Te Ching like the one you are now about to read, in which the Tao Te Ching is seen as a gnostic text and is interpreted on the basis of gnostic insight. This explains the title of the book: The Chinese Gnosis.
What is Gnosis? In one of their earlier works, The Universal Gnosis, the authors describe it as follows: ‘Originally, the Gnosis was the sum and substance of the ancient wisdom, the compendium of all knowledge having a direct relation to the original divine life of a truly unearthly divine human life-wave. The Hierophants of the Gnosis were, and still are, the messengers of the Immovable Kingdom. They convey the divine wisdom to lost humankind and point out the way to those who, as prodigal sons, want to return to the original land of the Father.’
This description makes it clear that, contrary to what people often say these days, true Gnosis — the original divine Knowledge which gives access to the path of liberation — is never limited to one particular country or nation. Gnosis is universal and intended for the whole human race, and wherever in the world the Messengers of the Light may work, it will always be revealed. That is why it was manifested not only in the Middle East, but also in ancient China, in the form of the Tao Te Ching, a book still treated with veneration in China today. The wisdom set down in the Tao Te Ching is every bit as relevant now as it was in Lao Tzu's time. Take this verse from chapter 31, for instance:
The finest weapons are instruments of disaster.
Those who possess Tao will have nothing to do with them.
Or this verse, from chapter 33:
He who overcomes others is strong, but he who overcomes himself is omnipotent.
The authors' interpretation of this verse is as follows: ‘being omnipotent means unlocking and participating in the core essence, the nuclear power, of the Godhead’. In a few simple words, this summarises the whole, magnificent task underlying human existence.
The Chinese Gnosis not only explains this task, but also shows how it can be accomplished. Then, say the authors, ‘we will see the whole world, the whole of humankind and the whole of our society change’.
Those who from delusion's grasp break free, find the path to inner reality.
Those who unto not-doing attain, are
linked as one, forever, in the Chain.
Source: The Chinese Gnosis by J. van Rijckenborgh and Catharose de Petri