File Name: Tao Te Ching: A New English Version
Author : Lao Tzu , Stephen Mitchell (Goodreads Author)
ISBN : 9780061142666
Format : Paperback 144 pages
Genre : Philosophy, Nonfiction, Religion, Classics, Spirituality, Poetry,
Rating: it was ok
The book that can be reviewed is not the constant book.
The review which reviews can be neither full of review nor lacking.
But as the river changes course over seasons must the reviewer neither review nor not review, but follow the constant review.
Rating: it was amazing
I'm an unbeliever and have been since the first time I played hooky from Sunday services and the Eye in the Sky didn’t say boo. So it may seem strange that I’m reviewing the Tao Te Ching, the widely known and influential Taoist text, written by Lao-Tzu and poetically translated in this edition by Stephen Mitchell. For me, the Tao Te Ching is more folk wisdom than religious treatise and is more useful than a million sermons.
Where the Tao Te Ching parts company with religious attempts at morality such as the 10 Commandments is in its inclusiveness. Seven of the 10 Commandments don’t mention God and are sound advice designed to facilitate peaceful community relations: respect your elders, don't kill, don't cheat on your spouse, don't steal, don't tell lies, and don't lust after another's spouse or his belongings. For me, the tragedy of the Great List is that the three that top it serve only to divide the world into believers and nonbelievers: regardless how closely you follow the last seven, if you don’t believe in God you’re not worth a fig. In doing so the first three create division where the last seven seek harmony. With Taoism, even if you don’t believe in the Force-like nature of the Tao—and in case there’s any question, I don’t—you can still consider yourself a Taoist.
Taoism seeks harmony by freeing the individual from the caustic effects of judgmental thinking, desire, and greed, and its fulcrum is the concept of “non-action,” or literally “doing not-doing.” Non-action, Mitchell writes in his introduction, is not the act of doing nothing but instead is the purest form of action: “The game plays the game; the poem writes the poem; we can’t tell the dancer from the dance.”
This slim book is both a quick read and a long study. Mitchell’s lyrical rendering of the Tao Te Ching might read to some like silly hippie clichés, but there’s more to it than that. Take chapter 9, a photocopy of which hung on my office corkboard for years:
Fill your cup to the brim and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner.
You can almost see the hacky sack and smell the patchouli. But there’s a truth to it that, if grasped, will change the way you think.
As chapter 1 states: “The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao./The name that can be named is not the eternal Name.” Analogy, then, plays an important role in understanding the Tao Te Ching, and the reader has to do quite a bit of work—the long study part—to fathom the book’s richness. Take chapter 11 in its entirety, where non-action is discussed:
We join spokes together in a wheel, but it is the center hole that makes the wagon move.
We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.
We hammer wood for a house, but it is the inner space that makes it livable.
We work with being, but non-being is what we use.
There is more to the book than philosophical abstraction. In fact, common sense pervades the Tao Te Ching. Take these lines, which discuss the roots of crime: “If you overvalue possessions, people begin to steal” (chapter 2) and “If you don’t trust the people you make them untrustworthy” (chapter 17). Or these, from chapter 38, which describe the toll of illusory thought:
When the Tao is lost, there is goodness.
When goodness is lost, there is morality.
When morality is lost, there is ritual.
Ritual is the husk of true faith,
The beginning of chaos.
Therefore the Master concerns himself with the depths and not the surface,
With the fruit and not the flower.
He has no will of his own.
He dwells in reality, and lets all illusions go.
I’m telling you, had I been born into Taoism I might actually believe in something.
Rating: it was amazing
"تائو" مبدأ و جوهر نهانى جهان را نوعى ظلمت و بى شكلى مى داند كه توصيفش از آن به قدرى به "عدم" نزديك است كه سخت بتوان آن را منطبق بر مفهوم رايج "خدا" دانست.
بر اساس حكمت تائو سالك با رسيدن به اين ظلمت و عدم است كه به آرامش مى رسد: با رها كردن انديشيدن و همۀ دانش هايش، با واگذاشتن "ذهن" و رسيدن به "بى ذهنى" و يكسره متحد شدن با "عين". تائو مى گويد همۀ بلايا و رنج ها و تيره بختى هاى بشر، به خاطر همين "ذهنيت" و توهم "تشخص" است، و در صورتى كه بشر تشخصش را كنار بگذارد، آرامش طبيعت بر زندگى بشر هم حكمفرما خواهد شد.
تائو که در اصل آیینی چینی بود، پس از ورود بودیسم به چین، با آن ترکیب شد و شاخه ای مهم از بودیسم را ساخت که امروزه شناخته شده ترین شاخۀ بودیسم در دنیای غیربودایی است: ذن بودیسم.
تائو ته چینگ
کتاب "تائو ته چینگ" اصلی ترین کتاب آیین تائو است و مجموعه ایست از ۸۱ گفتاورد کوتاه و شعرگونه حول زندگی ای توأم با آرامش درونی و حکومت کردن بدون اعمال قدرت.
اسم کتاب، به معنای "کتاب راه نیکی" است و آن را عموماً به "لائو تسو" حکیم چینی نسبت می دهند که دو هزار و ششصد سال قبل می زیست. معروف است که وقتی لائو تسو از فریب ها و توطئه های سیاستمداران دلزده شد، از شغل خود که کتابدار کتابخانۀ سلطنتی بود، استعفا داد و چین را ترک کرد. در دروازۀ شهر، یکی از نگهبانان از او درخواست کرد به او بگوید که تائو چیست، و لائو تسو این کتاب کوتاه را بر او املا کرد، سپس رفت و کسی دیگر او را ندید.
وقتى كشورى بر اساس حكمت اداره شود،
در انبارها، گندم و جو انبار مى شود
و وقتى بدون حكمت اداره شود،
در انبارها شمشير و نيزه انبار مى گردد
درخت کاج عظیم، از بذری کوچک می روید
و سفر هزار فرسنگی، با یک گام آغاز می شود.
Rating: really liked it
“The Tao is always nameless” (Chapter 71)
Trying to narrow down the philosophy of the Tao Te Ching with limiting words is to violate its primordial essence. How can one describe the Universe, the natural order of things, the incessant flowing from being to non-being, the circular unity of a reality traditionally mismatched in dualistic terms?
The Tao Te Ching doesn’t provide answers because there needn’t be questions, just the harmony of moulding to the landscape rather than trying to impose a particular shape on it.
The Tao Te Ching is the route in itself, the path to emptying the human mind of ambitions, schemes and desires and allow it to be flooded with the smoothness of humility and the exhilarating liberation of a simple life.
The Tao Te Ching exults the feminine yin over the masculine yang in the eternal interdependence of opposites, identifying its indwelling suppleness with the intrinsic elements of the Tao.
“The great state should be like a river basin.
The mixing place of the world,
The feminine of the world.
The feminine always overcomes the masculine by its softness
Because softness is lesser.” (Chapter 61)
Thus the Tao cannot be expressed, it has no name, it is indivisible, inaudible and immutable but also the origin of multiplicity that gives way to ambivalent interpretation, which in turn engenders the befuddling suspicion that the more one wants to unravel the Tao the less one masters it because its aim relays precisely in attaining unforced wisdom.
Composed of eighty one aphorisms with aesthetic lyricism reminiscent of ancient riddles or even taunting wordplay, the Tao Te Ching dismisses moral teachings, embraces paradoxical dichotomies and differentiates itself from other doctrines like Confucianism because it relays in intuition rather than in duty rooted on imposed moral principles or any other contrived authority.
According to the introduction (*), some schools of thought have accused the Tao of endorsing chaotic anarchy and of not responding to consistent criteria, but such ambiguity in the use of language and its playful axioms are in fact a pure reflection of its skeptical views on measuring all actions according to artificial rules disguised as traditional rituals.
I can’t claim to have found everlasting serenity in connecting to the natural flow of Taoism and accepting its philosophy of “action through inaction”, but the idea of finding comfort in the constant contradiction of the positive and negative forces within oneself in order to embrace the convoluted intricacies of existence casts an overwhelming shadow to the absolute dichotomies and blind beliefs prompted by the more familiar monotheistic “fear based” religions, where guilt, punishment and suffering are the conduits to salvation.
Why crave for redemption if we learn to follow the “way things are” and welcome the natural interdependence between opposites, accepting disorder, nothingness and non-being as part of the indestructible unity of all things?
“There is nothing better than to know that you don’t know” (Chapter 71)
(*) Note: The Barnes & Nobles edition comes with an explanatory introduction about the origins of the Tao, a very useful epilogue and an historical timeline of the identity of its mysterious author(s). Highly recommended edition.
Rating: it was amazing
This is, by far, my favorite translation of the Tao Te Ching. I own a few others and they're all well and good, but this one is the one I continually read from and refer to when people ask me about the Tao.
The translation is well done, it captures the nature of the text well, and it flows fairly evenly. It's not overly flowery or ornate, it gives you the basics of what you need to understand the various entries and assist in understanding what Tao is (i.e. the the Tao named Tao is not the great, eternal Tao).
It's a book that changed my life. I learned of Taoism in a world history class in high school, and when my friends took their Philosophy 101 course at the local university this was the text they worked with. My copy came second hand from the U's bookstore and I have had it ever since. It has taught me to understand a lot of the things in the world that otherwise would baffle me and lends a lot to my own personal philosophies.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is lost on their path through life. It doesn't have all of the answers, but it does have a LOT of perspective.
Rating: it was amazing
There are many translations of the Taoteching, nearly every one of which is probably worth reading, but this is my favorite version. I can’t attest to the accuracy of the translation, but having read so many different translations of the same text I feel like in some strange way I have a grasp of the original; as if a blank space (the Chinese original) has been given shape and definition by all the English versions surrounding it. But anyway... while I like the spare sensitivity of the language in this version, what makes this version extra special are the added bonuses: an engagingly detailed introduction exploring the life of Lao Tzu, what amounts to an original thesis on the very meaning of “tao”, and commentaries (on specific lines, even specific words) appended to each of the 81 entries that have been culled from centuries upon centuries of critical commentary, by scholars and eccentric mystics alike.
There is recent scholarship that is making the argument that instead of meaning “way” or “path”, which is usually taken to mean how we as people conduct ourselves in accordance with a mysterious spiritual principle, that “tao” actually refers to the Moon and its various phases and paths in space, with particular emphasis on the darkness of the new moon and its significance as potential in darkness. The new moon “hides” its fullness. The fullness is there in potential, unspent. I like this. There’s something pleasingly primitive about it (gimme that old-time religion!), i.e. something real and tangibly mysterious, but also something practical and spiritual – a connector between eye and heart that through some subtle gravity guides our feet along a path.
The commentaries that follow each poem or entry are fascinating and just scratch the surface of what I understand is a vast accumulation of scholarship on this text. The commentaries are often wildly contradictory and tangential, obsessive to an anal nth degree, but also at times wise in their own right. These commentaries have been written by official scholars, by mendicant monks, and even one or two extreme eccentrics living on the fringes of society unaffiliated with any institution. At the back of the book are short biographies of each commentator, which is fascinating reading in itself. It all adds up to evidence that this is a living book, with enough clear and direct meaning to be perpetually valid, and enough obscurity to be endlessly pondered.
The translator is an American who goes by the name Red Pine. He’s almost 70 now and has been a practicing Buddhist for years, but more in the wandering independent scholar Gary Snyder type style. He’s also translated the Diamond Sutra, poems of Han Shan (Cold Mountain) and Stonehouse, and some other Buddhist texts. In every work of his I’ve read there’s serious scholarship in evidence, but also a free spirit and independent thinker with a unique store of fresh air.
Rating: really liked it
Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu
تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سوم آگوست سال 2012 میلادی
عنوان: تائو ته چینگ؛ نویسنده: لائو تزو؛ مترجم: امیرحسن قائمی؛ ویراستار: ایوب کوشان؛ تهران، مترجمها، 1379؛ در 109 ص؛
عنوان: تائو ته چینگ؛ نویسنده: لائو تزو؛ مترجم: فرشید قهرمانی؛ تهران، سیاه مشق، 1382؛ در 81 ص؛ شابک: 9649447229؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، مثلث، 1383؛ چاپ سوم 1386؛ شابک: 9648496064؛ چاپ چهارم 1386؛ پنجم و ششم 1387؛ هفتم و هشتم 1388؛ نهم 1389؛ یازدهم 1390؛ دوازدهم 1391؛ سیزدهم تا پانزدهم 1392؛ شابک: 9789648496062؛ موضوع: راهنمای هنر زندگی از نویسندگان چینی - قرن 6 پیش از میلاد
این متن کهن را به «لائو تزو» یا «لائو دزو» نسبت داده اند، لائو تزو 600 سال پیش از میلاد مسیح و همزمان با کنفوسیوس، میزیسته است. «لائو تزو» همان مرشد، پیر یا استاد است. تاریخ نگار و کتابدار دربار امپراطوری «جو» بوده، و تنها همین کتاب از ایشان به یادگار مانده است. راهنمای هنر زندگی ست و خرد ناب. گفته اند: لائو تزو زندگی ساده و هماهنگ با طبیعت داشته، که همان پیام تائوست، عمری دراز زیسته گویا بین 160 تا 200 سال زیسته باشد. ... ؛
خوب همانند آب است
بدون تلاش همه را سیراب میکند
جمع شدن در گودها را کوچک نمیشمارد
Rating: it was amazing
I'm always reading this little book containing the essence of wisdom. For years I've read it again and again, one chapter every morning.
Rating: it was amazing
دوستانِ گرانقدر، این کتابِ ارزشمند، نوشتهٔ انسانِ خردمندی به نامِ <لائو تزو> است که در زمانِ <کنفوسیوس> بزرگ، در چین زندگی میکرده است... داستانِ زندگیِ او در چین بیشتر به یک افسانه شباهت دارد... امّا آنچه مهم است، سخنانِ زیبا و اندیشمندانه ایست که از این انسانِ خردمند و فرزانه، به یادگار مانده است
در زیر به انتخاب نوشته هایی از این کتاب را برایِ شما خردگرایانِ گرامی، مینویسم
شکست یک فرصت است... اگر دیگری را مقصر بدانی، پایانی برای مقصر دانستنِ دیگری، وجود نخواهد داشت... انسانِ فرزانه به وظایفش عمل میکند و اشتباهاتش را اصلاح میکند... او آنچه ضروری است را به انجام میرساند و از دیگران چیزی طلب نمیکند
انسان نرم و لطیف، زاده میشود و به هنگامِ مرگ، خشک و سخت میشود.... گیاهان هنگامی که سر از خاک بیرون می آورند، نرم و انعطاف پذیر هستند و به هنگامِ مرگ، خشک و شکننده میباشند... پس هرکه سخت و خشک است، مرگش نزدیک شده و هرکه نرم و انعطاف پذیر است، سرشار از زندگی میباشد... سخت و خشک میشکند.. نرم و انعطاف پذیر، باقی میماند
سعی در تسلط بر آینده، مانندِ این است که بخواهید یک شبِه، استادِ نجاری شوید... وقتی ابزارِ نجاری را در دست دارید، ممکن است حتی دست هایِ خویش را قطع کنید
رودها به دریا میریزند، زیرا دریا از آنها فروتر است... فروتنی به دریا، قدرت میبخشد... اگر میخواهید زندگیِ مردم را سامان ببخشید، فروتر از آنها قرار بگیرید... اگر میخواهید مردم را رهبری کنید، یاد بگیرید که چگونه از آنها پیروی کنید
ادارهٔ کشوری بزرگ، همچون سرخ کردنِ ماهیِ کوچک است... با دستکاری کردنِ بیش از حدِ آن، به حتم کار را خراب میکنی.... بهانه ای به بدی برایِ مخالفت مده... بدی خود به خود از میان خواهد رفت
من تنها سه چیز را آموزش میدهم: سادگی، شکیبایی، مهربانی ... این سه گرانبهاترینِ گنجها هستند... ساده در اعمال و افکار; به منبعِ وجود باز میگردید--- شکیبا با دوستان و دشمنان; با همه چیز هماهنگی می یابید--- مهربان با خود; با تمامیِ موجوداتِ جهان در صلح و آشتی، خواهید بود
امیدوارم این ریویو برایِ شما خردگرایانِ ایرانی، مفید بوده باشه
<پیروز باشید و ایرانی>
Rating: liked it
عرفت الان بعد قراءة هذا الكتاب سر التواضع والاحترام التي تسود سكان شرق اسيا عموما والصين واليابان خصوصا.
التاو تدعوا الى التكامل وليس التناقض.
الفلسفة السائدة في الشرق الأوسط وأوروبا هي فلسفة التناقض:
الخير ضد الشر، السلام ضد الحرب، الليل ضد النهار.....الخ.
فلسفة التاو ان الكل مكمل لبعضه:
فلولا الشر لما كان هناك خير، لولا الليل لما كان هناك نهار، لولا الحرب لما كان هناك سلام.
وتطرقت فلسفته أيضا الى التعامل بين البشر بالتواضع والاحترام وليس قيادتهم والتأثير عليهم.
وكلما قل تدخل الحكومة كلما كانت قيادة الشعب اسهل. والحاكم يسير في الخلف وراء الشعب ولا يقودهم.
والقسوة تؤدي الى الموت لان الشعب يبدأ بعدم الخوف من الموت.
فلسفة رائعة رغم أني أراها مثالية زيادة عن الحد.
والتعرف الى هذه الفلسفة شيء جميل.
Rating: did not like it
This version irritates me a lot, largely because of Stephen Mitchell's arrogance in writing it (I'll go into that in a bit). This is not a translation (which Mitchell was at least gracious enough to make clear in the back of the book); it's a translation of various translations. The problem with this is that a translation of a translation turns out the same way that a copy of a copy does: while some of the original words and phrases are identifiable, there's a lot that's lost or skewed.
For example, here is a good translation of the first line of Ch. 3 by D.C. Lau: "Not to honor men of worth will keep the people from contention."
Stephen Mitchell's translation of the same line is: "If you overesteem great men, / people become powerless."
The original Wang Bi character in question is 爭, or zhēng, which means "dispute," "strive," "contend," "fight," etc. It does not mean "powerless." By free-handing the translation, Mitchell alters the meaning of the text. While it doesn't damage the understanding of someone already familiar with Taoism and its literature, it does mislead those new to Taoism who seek an authentic introductory text to understand the philosophy.
As I mentioned above, what really irritates me is Mitchell's arrogance regarding his version of the text versus the original Chinese versions and the translations that more closely adhere to their meaning. In the question-and-answer section located in the back of the book, the querent says: "But it's one thing to translate Rilke and the Book of Job when you read German and Hebrew; it's quite another to translate books like the Tao Te Ching, the Bhagavad Gita, or Gilgamesh without any knowledge of the original languages." Mitchell's response is: "Yes, it's a different kind of venture, but not so different as you might think. Of course, I wouldn't dare work with a text that I didn't feel deeply connected to--I used to speak of my 'umbilical connection' to Lao-tzu. I had discovered the Tao Te Ching shortly before I began Zen training in 1973." Later, the querent asks: "You knew what Lao-tzu was talking about, through direct experience [in Zen meditation] of your own?" And Mitchell replies: "That's where my confidence came from." Essentially, Mitchell is claiming that his text is authentic because of his felt spiritual connection to its author, rather than it being an accurate translation of the text. But isn't the best translation one that is authentic on multiple levels, emotionally and literally? However, if I had to choose, I'd rather read a translation that is accurate and discover the emotional resonance on my own. Also, FYI: Zen is a school of Buddhism, not Taoist, though it was influenced by Taoism. They share some similar values and qualities, but they are distinct.
Mitchell continues: "There was also the excitement of the aesthetic challenge. Some calculated that by 1986 there were 102 translations of the Tao Te Ching into English alone. I had read six or seven of them, and although I loved the content, the language was mediocre at best: not much poetry in it, not much sparkle. This may sound arrogant too, and irrational. How can you fall in love with a book whose actual words bore you? But that's what happened." This sentiment, I think, is the source of all the problems I have with the text. It's completely non-Taoist. If Mitchell had paid attention to even his version of the last chapter, 81, which reads: "True words aren't eloquent; / eloquent words aren't true," he would have seen the folly of his approach. Instead, he decided that he'd rather cut entire paragraphs, rearrange the remaining words, and even alter the meaning to better suit his aesthetic values. His disregard for accuracy and his preference for his concept of beauty over truth not only shows a complete lack of respect for the text, the tradition and its culture of origin; it's also just not scholarly.
Another interesting admission made by Mitchell is that he spent only four months writing this version. "By contrast," he says, "it had taken me seventeen years to finish my translation of the Book of Job. So, obviously, I was getting more focused, or more efficient..." I disagree with him there--it's not obvious to me that he was any more focused or more efficient. The vast difference in time spent translating Job and rewriting the Tao Te Ching instead tells me that he worked very hard to faithfully render the former and just cobbled together the latter. Mitchell actually reads and understands Hebrew, so it's likely that he was aware of the nuances of the language and therefore understood the importance of accurately rendering the text into English. Mitchell doesn't read any Chinese. If the language is incomprehensible to him, how can he possibly grasp the nuances of the characters in order to accurately translate them for others?
This isn't to say that his version is completely wrong. Many sections are fairly accurate (like the line in Ch. 81 that I mentioned above). But there are also many places in his text that are inaccurate to the point of misconstruing the core concepts of the belief system.
So if you're new to Taoism and are looking for a translation that accurately communicates Taoist beliefs and sensibilities, I suggest that you go somewhere else. There are many other translations that more accurately render the Tao Te Ching in English. Each has its own particular "flavor" and may contain slightly different words or rhythms, but most aim to faithfully present an accurate translation of the text that, while not serving every culture's aesthetic requirements, is very beautiful in its own way and has a lot of wisdom to offer, regardless of cultural and generational differences in taste. Here's a good website to get you started: http://wengu.tartarie.com/wg/wengu.ph... The site provides not only several different translations, but also the original Wang Bi text with translations of each character.
If, however, you're already familiar with the Tao Te Ching and other Taoist literature, Mitchell's book at least serves as a good example of Taoism's effect on contemporary American culture.
Rating: really liked it
(review after rereading:)
This book's contents and history have both a sense of vagueness, but not in a bad way, in my opinion. It's somewhat uncertain when it was written (circa 4th-3rd century BC), the author's life details are largely invented, and the existence of the author is not quite certain either (Lao Tzu is just his title, and also it's not known if the text is by one author, or a group of authors worked over some years). It was first translated in the late 1700s, and the oldes existing copy is from circa 300 BC.
It's a bit hard to categorise: ethics? religious? philosophy? But really, in my view any of those would do. In a way it felt a bit like Dhammapada, which I've read earlier, in that even if you're not interested in the religion it's part of, it will still appeal, and is a pretty easy a read. I read it quite quickly now.
Taoism is clearly put as an opposite way of thinking against Confucianism - which shows in some parts of this text - the latter being based on duties to the community and the family, but somewhat rigidly black and white at its hardest. Taoism is in its end less rigid, putting weight on the coexistence of the opposites, reverence of nature, flexibility and not being too controlling. The Tao is a force in the world, not completely graspable or something one can give a finite meaning, but which balances our world. It is gentleness, avoiding conflict of grasping, seeking peacefulness, simplicity, detachment and humility. Making the point without engaging in rhetoric and arguments.
The book's message is simple, the prose spare with plenty of natural imagery. The wisdom (the Tao) of the book is feminine, yin in balance with the yang (while in Confucianism the yang seems sometimes bit heavily-leaned on).
The message seems simple, yet is deep. Quite a few sentences bounced out of the text as familiar, things I've seen quoted. Reading and rereading each page will most certainly happen for me in the future. The whole thing reads just like a beautiful ancient Chinese nature painting... and the view is beautiful, peaceful. Such is this book.
Rating: really liked it
When people see things as beautiful, ugliness is created
When people see things as good, evil is created
The master leads by emptying people's mind
The Tao is like an empty vessel
It can never be emptied and can never be filled
Master doesn’t take sides
The spirit of emptiness is immortal
The location makes the dwelling good
Depth of understanding makes the mind good
A kind heart makes the giving good
Integrity makes the government good
Accomplishment makes your labors good
Proper timing makes a decision good
Can you love people and lead them without forcing your on them?
To grow, yet not to control: This is the mysterious virtue
Too much activity dangers the mind
Too much wealth causes crime
Success is as danger as failure
Love the whole world as if it were your self
Then you will truly care for all things
Look for it, and it can't be seen
Listen for it, and it can't be heard
Grasp for it, and it can't be caught
Unending, unnamable, it return to nothingness
Formless forms, imageless images
Subtle, beyond all understanding
Returning to the resource is tranquility
If you want to become whole first let yourself become broken
If you want to become straight, first let yourself become twisted
If you want to become full, first let yourself become empty
If you want to become new, first let yourself become old
Before the universe was born
There was something in the chaos of the heaven
The Tao follows only itself
A good traveler leaves no tracks
Know the masculine but keep to the feminine
Some are meant to lead and others are meant to follow
The Master accepts the things as they are
Those who know others are intelligent
Those who know themselves are truly wise
Those who master other are strong
Those who master themselves have true power
All of creation is born from substance
Substance is born of nothing-ness
Few in the world can comprehend the teaching without words
Which is more destructive, success or failure?
To understand the small is called clarity
Knowing how to yield is called strength
Those who know do not talk
Those who talk do not know
Act by not acting
Do by not doing
A journey of thousand miles starts with a single footstep
If you rush into action, you will fail
If you hold on too tight, you will lose your grip
Compassion is the protector of Heaven's salvation
Rating: really liked it
Concatenated thoughts. Review #1 ✔ - #2
They come to be and he claims no possession of them,
He works without holding on,
Accomplishes without claiming merit.
Because he does not claim merit,
His merit does not go away.
Rating: it was amazing
Third translation I've read, my favorite of the three. I love this book of philosophy. It gives great common sense and helps pave new thought patterns not taught in American culture, paths that lead to peace and sanity. My favorite book of philosophy.
12-13-17: Great translation, helped me understand it. My favorite religious/ philosophical book aside from the Christian Bible. Shows a path of peace, contentment and subtle, quiet, managable power.
I found this quote in my notebook, the only one I wrote down. Beautiful.
"Heaven is long-enduring and earth continues long. The reason why heaven and earth are able to endure and continue this long is because they do not live of, or for, themselves. This is how they are able to continue and endure."
“Nothingness cannot be defined; the softest thing cannot be snapped.” – Bruce Lee
My favorite quote from Bruce Lee, thus far, stretches across this page, above. The quote has reminded me of the power of humility, and the deceptive and dichotomous nature of that power. Humility clothes itself in rags of weakness and frailty but draws superhuman strength, and the Tao Te Ching calls this an empty vessel being filled with another power.
Bruce Lee based much of his life and work on the Tao Te Ching, so I read it. I admire this amazing and deeply profound piece of religious literature. The philosophy coincides with my own faith. I hear echoes of teachings I’ve heard in Christianity. The book teaches, as already mentioned, the power of humility. It teaches the value of things considered meaningless, such as empty space. We build houses, form rooms with four walls, but the basis of this structure lies upon the importance of the empty space. Empty space provides room to live, to breathe, to walk, to make love, to work.
The author also likens the paradox (and there are many, sometimes frustrating paradoxes, confirming the understanding can’t be grasped in one simple read) to that of the empty space between the spokes of a wheel. The power and mechanics of a wheel depend on the empty space.
Thus, we consider worthless things, abased things, as meaningless. We say we live life to the fullest when we have what we want, and when we lose it all, we have no meaning, no purpose, no life. The book attempts to explain this. Balance. The Yin-Yang. The point of the argument concludes with something underlying the whole of existence. One constant, the Tao. I like to think of this, in my personal paradigm of faith, as God. The book says Tao came before the existence of God, which I believe refers to man’s interpretation or attempt to understand God. The Tao exists as the fundamental, underlying essence of the universe. Above the Tao, we have the evidence of “life,” the events, the good, the bad, acceptance, rejection, bliss, pain, heaven, hell, male, female – you get it. Under all these events we also have a soul, eternal and unchanging in nature.
The book changed my perspective. I’ve recently divorced. As I experience grief, the thoughts come: life has no purpose now. Right now, in the present situation, I’m in a low, one side of the Yin-Yang. If I look back, and as Sarah Mclachlan says, “don’t let life pass [me] by; hold on to the memories,” I see the whole Yin-Yang, the whole balance, the beauty, the essence of life itself. I see a proud mother, her warm, soft hand holding mine as she says, “Lord, we come now to the throne of God.” I see a shriveled woman with tubes in her nostrils taking final breaths and slurring the words, “My son.” I see triumph as a child pitching a no-hitting season of baseball. I see my mother’s tears, and hear her weeping as we came home from my first attempt and fail at college (because of partying). I see a Father who loves me, and plays baseball with me, fishes with me. I see a father choking to hold back tears by my mother’s casket. The high, the low. The wave. Up, down, up, down. I see a beautiful lady with sea-blue eyes lying on my chest of happiness. I see a house I’m leaving as I gather my last things, and a baby-dog I’ll never see again, crying upstairs because Daddy’s going away and he knows I won’t return to walk him again.
See it all. See life. See the beauty, the lesson. See the tenderness of a mother deer licking her baby. See the lion chasing and biting the bleeding neck of her prey. See it all. This is life. The wonder, the blessing. Life. We live. We experience. The experiences only flow through a constant medium, us. I believe we exist in a timeless place called soul, and this place holds it all, the good and bad, in memories. We extend from the underlying Principle, the “Tao,” or some call it the Universe, some God. I believe this God has a face and He wants to be seen.
The author points out the paradox of softness. He refers to women as feminine, or weak, but then turns to say weakness stands stronger than strength, because strength depends on the weakness, as the walls depend on the space for meaning.
He says maturity is the end, the death, and Tao has no place with this. When we master something, it ends. A full-grown tree has only to be full-grown, and eventually wither. A new tree has begun to grow, and has a softness, and in this potential to grow, most of life abounds, because the process has just begun.
My end becomes a new beginning, always, so long as air feeds oxygen into my lungs and body.