Tao Te Ching is one of the world’s most renowned analytical and mystical classics, respected by many. Many consider it as the oldest scripture of Taoism and a spiritual text. It is an ageless philosophy of power based on balance with nature. Many embrace it as a modern administration handbook and is well suited to present-day life.
Tao Te Ching means The Way of Power or The Classic (Ching) of the Way (Tao) and Virtue (Te). The tao decides the te, which is how a person might behave who is aware of the tao. Whatever can be explained is not tao, which is the ageless life force that runs through all life. This life force produces a pivotal harmony with the universe.
The book portrays a person who has fully assimilated the Tao and so with the cosmos. The following is as stated by Martin Palmer, in his introduction to Timothy Freke’s excellent translation of the book. It says that it represents a ‘world of order that we must work with, not a world where we must just fend for ourselves’. In this world, we do not labor anymore. finding that it is this assimilation, rather than mechanical aspirations, that fulfills what we need.
The philosophy of the tao is when you come in accord with it, your actions stop to seem like action. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has registered this feeling as ‘flow’. Quantum physicist David Bohm speaks of it as being a fragment of ‘the unfolding’.
In disparity, regular action includes an attempt to will to do something. It usually involves deviation or oppression. Tao efforts assemble to complete; all its substituting bits.
Lao Tzu’s or Laozi’s, (Chinese: “Master Lao” or “Old Master”) original name was Li Er. Lao Tzu is Deified as Lao Jun, Tai Shang Lao-Jun, or Tai Shang Xuanyuan Huangdi. He is also called Lao Dun or Lao Dan. His work thrived in the 6th century BC, China. He is revered as the first philosopher of Chinese Daoism. and is claimed to be the author of the Daodejing, the earliest of Daoist writing. Modern academics deducts the possibility that the Daodejing was written by only one person. Although they do accept the influence of Daoism on the development of Buddhism. Laozi is respected as a philosopher by Confucians. Many consider him as a saint or god in popular religion. Many idolized and worshipped him as an imperial forefather in the Tang dynasty (618–907).
Lao Tzu got fed up with the life in the Zhou court as it grew virtuously corrupt. So he took his leave riding on a water buffalo to the western edge of the Chinese empire. Although clothed as a farmer, the border authority identified him for who he was. They asked him to pen down his wisdom. According to this folktale, what Lao Tzu wrote transformed into the sacred scripture named the Tao Te Ching. After scribing this, Lao Tzu is said to have traversed the border and vanished from history. Possibly to become a hermit. In actuality, the Tao Te Ching is probably the compendium of the works of many authors over the periods of ages. But stories about Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching made their way through generation. Through various Chinese philosophical schools for 2000 years. It has become surprisingly ornamented in the process.
Excerpts from the book:
The following excerpt is taken from the book.
The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao The name that can be named is not the eternal Name. The unnamable is the eternally real. Naming is the origin of all particular things. Free from desire, you realize the mystery. Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations. Yet mystery and manifestations arise from the same source. This source is called darkness. Darkness within darkness. The gateway to all understanding.
When people see some things as beautiful, other things become ugly. When people see some things as good, other things become bad. Being and non-being create each other. Difficult and easy support each other. Long and short define each other. High and low depend on each other. Before and after follow each other. Therefore the Master acts without doing anything and teaches without saying anything. Things arise and she lets them come; things disappear and she lets them go. She has but doesn't possess, acts but doesn't expect. When her work is done, she forgets it. That is why it lasts forever.
If you over esteem great men, people become powerless. If you overvalue possessions, people begin to steal. The Master leads by emptying people's minds and filling their cores, by weakening their ambition and toughening their resolve. He helps people lose everything they know, everything they desire, and creates confusion in those who think that they know. Practice not-doing, and everything will fall into place.
The Tao is like a well: used but never used up. It is like the eternal void: filled with infinite possibilities. It is hidden but always present. I don't know who gave birth to it. It is older than God.
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Reviews of the book:
Tao Te Ching
A lucid translation of the well-known Taoist classic by a leading scholar-now in a Shambhala Pocket Library edition.
Written more than two thousand years ago, the Tao Te Ching, or -The Classic of the Way and Its Virtue, – is one of the true classics of the world of spiritual literature.
Traditionally attributed to the legendary -Old Master, – Lao Tzu, the Tao Te Ching teaches that the qualities of the enlightened sage or ideal ruler are identical with those of the perfected individual.
Today, Lao Tzu’s words are as useful in mastering the arts of leadership in business and politics as they are in developing a sense of balance and harmony in everyday life. To follow the Tao or Way of all things and realize their true nature is to embody humility, spontaneity, and generosity.
John C. H. Wu has done a remarkable job of rendering this subtle text into English while retaining the freshness and depth of the original. A jurist and scholar, Dr. Wu was a recognized authority on Taoism and the translator of several Taoist and Zen texts and Chinese poetry.
This book is part of the Shambhala Pocket Library series. The Shambhala Pocket Library is a collection of short, portable teachings from notable figures across religious traditions and classic texts.
The covers in this series are rendered by Colorado artist Robert Spellman. The books in this collection distill the wisdom and heart of the work Shambhala Publications has published over 50 years into a compact format that is collectible, reader-friendly, and applicable to everyday life.
This review was taken from Goodreads.com
For nearly two generations, Gia-fu Feng and Jane English’s bestselling translation of the Tao Te Ching has been the standard for those seeking access to the wisdom of Taoist thought. Now Jane English and her long-time editor, Toinette Lippe, have revised and refreshed the translation so that it more faithfully reflects the Classical Chinese in which it was first written, taking into account changes in our own language and eliminating any lingering infelicities. They have retained the simple clarity of the original rendering of a sometimes seemingly obtuse spiritual text, a clarity that has made this version a classic in itself, selling over a million copies.
Written most probably in the sixth century B.C. by Lao Tsu, this esoteric but infinitely practical book has been translated into English more frequently than any other work except the Bible. Gia-fu Feng and Jane English’s superb translation—the most accessible and authoritative modern English translation—offers the essence of each word and makes Lao Tsu’s teaching immediate and alive. This edition includes an introduction and notes by the well-known writer and scholar of philosophy and comparative religion, Jacob Needleman.
Review by Amazon.com