How to Find Your Own Way in a Chaotic and Confusing World
“When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” So goes an ancient saying. And it is true about this classic, in all its versions.
Lao-tzu’s Tao Te Ching, or Book of the Way, is the classic manual on the art of living, and one of the wonders of the world. In eighty-one brief chapters, the Tao Te Ching looks at the basic predicament of being alive and gives advice that imparts balance and perspective, a serene and generous spirit.
This book is about wisdom in action. It teaches how to work for the good with the effortless skill that comes from being in accord with the Tao (the basic principle of the universe) and applies equally to good government and sexual love; to child rearing, business, and ecology.
Next to the Bible, the most translated book in the world is the Tao Te Ching, the ancient Chinese Book of the Way. Written approximately 2,500 years ago by the legendary sage Lao Tzu, this classic continues to inspire readers today.
Chinese Buddhism, which when first introduced into China was largely interpreted through the use of Daoist words and concepts. Many Chinese artists, including poets, painters, calligraphers, and even gardeners, have used this book as a source of inspiration. Its influence has also spread widely outside East Asia, and is among the most translated works in world literature.
Finding Your Path As You Read
You may find as you read that you discover wisdom like a raw jewel which you shape into a glittering diamond. That is the brilliance of the book.
The Tao is wise, paradoxical, counter-intuitive, puzzling, fascinating, mysterious, inspiring, amazing and true. These concepts bypass ego-based thinking, and the idea of doing things by not striving is allowing a higher more authentic way of thinking to inform your being and your action.
Like any great mystery, the Tao is there to be experienced and not necessarily fully understood on first reading.
The Tao is not about being right, it’s about who and what we are. The Tao is a spiritual philosophy meant to be integrated into daily life, not a quest for some clinical academic pontification of words and ideas.
The Tao is a living breathing way of awareness and conduct and it cannot be contained in even the most brilliant of translations. If a piece of art, writing or performance touches you to the core of your being then all criticism is really obsolete.
How to Translate a Timeless Classic
This edition was translated by The English sinologist James Legge in 1885.
To translate a work that has been translated so many times before–and so well–may seem almost an act of hubris. But as the English language continues to evolve, it is the duty of the translator to attempt to restate a classic for their generation, in a language that they can best understand.
Many have missed the point to criticize the work on the pros and cons of it’s translation. The merit of the work is in the effectiveness of bringing a person to the Way in the simplest strokes. The translator’s gift is to bring the work alive in a way that touches the emotions as well as the mind. Translators may inspire us because of their ability to reach us and bring us closer to our true nature.
In many translations the direct or closest literal translation does not meet the western individual where we can A) understand it and B) assimilate it into our daily lives.
Why You Should Read This Book (Again.)
You may ask yourself why it is that you’ve read this far down the page. You may have several copies of the Tao already.
But do you need another view of this classic to reveal meanings you may not have seen?
Again, perhaps this teacher appears because you are now ready for more lessons about your own Way.
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