Cover image for Tao te ching
Title:
Tao te ching
Author:
Laozi.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Tao tê ching. English. 1972
Edition:
[First edition].
Publication Information:
New York : Vintage Books [1972]
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) illustrations 29 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780394718330
Format :
Book

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BL1900.L26 F49 1972B Adult Mass Market Paperback Central Closed Stacks-Oversize
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BL1900.L3 F46 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ
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Summary

Summary

Written during the golden age of Chinese philosophy, and composed partly in prose and partly in verse, the "Tao Te Ching" is surely the most terse and economical of the world's great religious texts. In a series of short, profound chapters it elucidates the idea of the Tao, or the Way- an idea that in its ethical, practical, and spiritual dimensions has become essential to the life of China's enormously powerful civilization. In the process of this elucidation, - Lao-- tzu both clarifies and deepens those central religious mysteries around which our life on earth revolves. Translation of the Ma Wang Tui Manuscripts by D. C. Lau


Author Notes

Gia-Fu Feng was prominent as both an English translator (with his wife, Jane English) of Daoist classics and a Daoist teacher in the United States.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

More than five dozen translations of the Tao te Ching exist in English, making it questionable whether there is a need for yet another. But Stephen Hodge's Tao te Ching: A New Translation and Commentary is revisionist enough to warrant a look. He spends a good part of the introduction situating Lao Tzu's work in the context of the Warring States period (475-221 B.C.E.), even to the point of neglecting to tell the reader much about the content of the text itself. He also discusses the perplexing question of authorship and outlines various translation difficulties. The remainder of the book is more accessible, and is organized thematically to help the reader understand the Tao te Ching's key ideas. Hodge writes well, and the book is beautifully designed with more than 100 photographs and illustrations. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

It is not often that books of merit in the field of spiritual writing also appeal to the eye and the hand. This version of the well-known Tao Te Ching is indubitably a coffee-table book, but it is as gratifying to the intellect as to the sense of aesthetics. In the principal section of the book, each verse chapter, in Chinese and in Dale's translation, is accompanied by a beautifully subtle black-and-white photograph. At the rear of the book, Dale, a longtime scholar of acupuncture and other fields, repeats each verse chapter and adds his own commentary. There is something unintentionally comic about Dale's Western, reasoned, and multisyllabic commentaries on Lao Tzu's studied simplicity, apparent even in translation; still, most readers will find Dale's insights helpful. For libraries with significant holdings in Taoism. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

In answer to the obvious question of the need for adding to the corpus of more than 100 translations of the Tao Te Ching, Addiss and Lombardo posit four reasons. Their first claim, "to translate rather than explain the text," is a matter of opinion among scholars. Their second claim as well is a matter of judgment. "We have kept as far as possible to the bare bones of the language." To both of these claims we have a master translator's response. Columbia University's Burton Watson, in his brief introduction, states, "It seems to me they have succeeded brilliantly." To remain gender-neutral in the translation is an effective device in keeping with the nature of the Chinese language. However, their last reason is, to this reviewer, the most compelling. The translators have chosen to add lines of the text in Chinese characters in each section and to accompany them with an extensive glossary. This makes the text more of a challenge for the reader to puzzle with and clearly points to the difficulty of interpretation. Even more than in most Chinese texts, each word in the Tao Te Ching is a translators' decision. This new translation goes a long way to acknowledge both the dilemma and creativity inherent in its rendering. Undergraduate; general. L. L. Lam-Easton California State University, Northridge


Excerpts

Excerpts

1   Gateway to All Marvels   The Tao that can be Told   Is not the True Tao;   Names that can be Named   Are not True Names.   The Origin of Heaven and Earth   Has no Name.   The Mother of the Myriad Things   Has a Name.   Free from Desire,   Contemplate the Inner Marvel;   With Desire,   Observe the Outer Radiance.   These issue from One Source,   But have different Names.   They are both a Mystery.   Mystery of Mysteries,   Gateway to All Marvels.         The River Master   The Tao that can be Told is the mundane Tao of the Art of Government, as opposed to the True Tao of Nature, of the So-of-Itself, of Long Life, of Self-Cultivation through Non-Action. This is the Deep Tao, which cannot be Told in Words, which cannot be Named. The Names that can be Named are such worldly things as Wealth, Pomp, Glory, Fame, and Rank.   The Ineffable Tao   Emulates the Wordless Infant,   It resembles   The Unhatched Egg,   The Bright Pearl within the Oyster,   The Beauteous Jade amongst Pebbles.   It cannot be Named.   The Taoist glows with Inner Light, but seems outwardly dull and foolish. The Tao itself has no Form, it can never be Named.   The Root of the Tao   Proceeds from Void,   From Non-Being,   It is the Origin,   The Source of Heaven and Earth,   Mother of the Myriad Things,   Nurturing All-under-Heaven,   As a Mother Nurtures her Children.         Magister Liu   The single word Tao is the very Core of this entire Classic, its lifeblood. Its Five Thousand Words speak of this Tao and of nothing else.   The Tao itself   Can never be   Seen.   We can but witness it   Inwardly,   Its Origin,   Mother of the Myriad Things.   The Tao itself can never be   Named,   It cannot be Told.   And yet we resort to Words, such as Origin, Mother, and Source.   Every Marvel   Contemplated,   Every Radiance   Observed,   Issues from this One Source.   They go by different Names,   But are part of the same   Greater Mystery,   The One Tao, the Origin, the Mother.   In freedom from Desire,   We look within   And Contemplate   The Inner Marvel,   Not with eyes   But inwardly   By the Light of Spirit.   We look outward   With the eyes of Desire,   And Observe   The Outer Radiance.   Desire itself, in its first Inklings, in the embryonic Springs of Thought, is born within the Heart-and-Mind. Outer Radiance is perceived through Desire, in the World, in the opening and closing of the Doors of Yin and Yang. This is the Named, the Visible, these are the Myriad Things. Thus, both with and without Desire, we draw near to the Mystery of Mysteries, to the Gateway that leads to all Marvels, to the Tao.         John Minford: The Tao and the Power says to its reader at the very outset, "Only through experience, only through living Life to the full, in both the Inner and Outer Worlds, can the True Nature of the Tao be Understood and communicated. Not through Words." Desire and the Life of the Senses are part of that experience. Through Desire we witness and enjoy the Beauty of the World, we Observe the Outer Radiance of the Tao. We live Life, we bask in its Radiance. Taoists do not deny the Senses. But Contemplation, the Light of Deep Calm, of meditative experience, goes further. It reveals the Inner Marvel, the Mystery of Mysteries. Outer Radiance and Inner Marvel issue from one and the same Source, which is the Tao. This twofold path is one of the central themes in Magister Liu's commentary, one to which he returns again and again, exhorting the Taoist Aspirant to begin from Observation of the Outer Radiance, and to proceed through Contemplation of the Inner Marvel to a deeper level of Self-Cultivation, to a deeper Attainment of the Tao. "It is Contemplation that gives spiritual significance to objects of sense."   The Book of Taoist Master Zhuang: The Great Tao cannot be Told. The Great Discussion lies beyond Words . . . Where can I find someone who Understands this Discussion beyond Words, who Understands the Tao that can never be Told? This True Understanding of the Tao is a Reservoir of Heaven-and-Nature. Pour into it and it is never full. Pour from it and it is never exhausted. It is impossible to know whence it comes. It is Inner Light.   Arthur Waley: Not only are Books the mere discarded husk or shell of wisdom, but Words themselves, expressing as they do only such things as belong to the normal state of consciousness, are irrelevant to the deeper experience of the Tao, the "wordless doctrine."   Jan Duyvendak: The ordinary, mundane Tao (the one that can be easily Told, or talked about) is unchanging, static, and permanent. The True Tao is Elusive and Ineffable, is in its very Essence Perpetual Change. In the Tao, nothing whatsoever is fixed and unchanging. This is the first great paradox of this Classic, the ever-shifting Cycle of Change, of Being and Non-Being, in which Life and Death constantly yield to and alternate with each other.   Richard Wilhelm: In the Taoist Heart-and-Mind, Psyche and Cosmos are related to each other like the Inner and Outer Worlds.   JM: A Tao that could be Told might be any one of the Prescriptions for Living and Ruling that were being proposed in the ferment of the Chinese Warring States period (475-221 BC). All of them would have been called a Tao, a Way, a Recipe for Life. One such Tao, for example, was contained in the little book from that period known as The Art of War (Sunzi bingfa), whose "author," Sun-tzu (Sunzi), is every bit as lost in the mists of legend as Lao-tzu (Laozi). The Deep Tao, the True Way, and the inexhaustible Inner Power or Strength that flows from the experience of the Tao, are the subjects of this whole Five Thousand Word text. But they are beyond Telling. Words and Names are nothing more than disjointed bits and pieces; they fragment the whole, the One Tao. The paradoxical Mystery of Mysteries is that the Taoist fuses Being on the one hand (the Radiance, Magnificence, and Beauty of the Outer World, as perceived through the Senses, through Desire), and Non-Being on the other (the Dark Intangible Marvel and Mystery of the Inner World). This fusion, this Gateway to Marvels, does not lend itself to any simplistic Name or Label. Names were the preoccupation of more worldly schools of thought, especially the Confucians, for whom Names needed to correspond precisely to Things. As with so much of this short and densely ambiguous Classic, the Chinese word used here for Name, ming, has more than one meaning. It also means Fame, Renown, or Reputation (it is after all by being Famous that one acquires a "Name" for oneself). Taoists care nothing for Fame. They hide their Light. They are incognito. And yet, despite these protestations about the vanity of Words and Names, and the powerlessness of Words to describe the True Nature of the Tao, despite the futility of even attempting to define or dissect the Tao, paradoxically, The Tao and the Power itself is written in an intensely poetic language (sometimes mesmerizingly and bafflingly so), which edges imperceptibly toward the Wordless Truth, it is an inaudible Song with neither Words nor Music, it sings the Silence that is the Tao. The Tao needs to be experienced, not talked about. This Classic and its countless Commentaries do talk, they propose all manner of Images (see the Taoist Florilegium appended at the end of my translation for a selection of these). But these are merely pointers toward the Tao, toward the gnosis of Taoist experience, parts of a hermetic vocabulary for initiates. In that sense these Names are No-Names.   Arthur Waley, whose translation from the 1930s remains one of the best, gives us a pithy summary of this first Chapter and of the whole book. "In dispassionate Vision the Taoist sees a world consisting of the things for which language has no Name. We can call it the Sameness or the Mystery. These Names are however merely stopgaps. For what we are trying to express is Darker than any Mystery."       The Tang dynasty poet Bo Juyi (772-846) jested:   Those who speak   Know nothing;   Those who Know   Are silent.   Those Words, I'm told,   Were uttered   By Lao-tzu.   If we're to believe   That he himself   Was someone who Knew,   Why did he end up   Writing a Book   Of Five Thousand Words?   2   A Wordless Teaching   That which All-under-Heaven   Considers   Beautiful   May also be considered   Ugly;   That which All-under-Heaven   Considers   Good   May also be considered   Not-Good.   Being and Non-Being   Engender one another.   Hard and Easy   Complete each other.   Long and Short   Generate each other.   High and Low   Complement each other.   Melody and Harmony   Resonate with each other.   Fore and Aft   Follow one another.   These are Constant Truths.   The Taoist dwells in   Non-Action,   Practices   A Wordless Teaching.   The Myriad Things arise,   And none are rejected.   The Tao gives Birth   But never Possesses.   The Taoist Acts   Without Attachment,   Achieves   Without dwelling   On Achievement,   And so never loses.         The River Master   The Taoist rules through Non-Action, through the Tao. The Taoist guides through Wordless Teaching, by example. The Primal Breath-Energy of the Tao gives Life to the Myriad Things, but never Possesses them.   The Tao seeks   No recompense.   The Taoist,   Having Achieved,   Retires to Seclusion   And never dwells on   Achievement.         Magister Liu   Non-Action and Wordlessness are the Core of this Chapter, Freedom from so-called Knowledge. Whosoever goes beyond False Knowledge is freed from "opposites" such as Beautiful and Ugly, High and Low. From this Higher Knowledge flows a Life without Possession or Attachment. The Heart-and-Mind of Opposition (such as that between Beautiful and Ugly) brings a Diminution of Life-Essence, a loss of Spirit, a confusion of Emotion. All of these damage Life. The Taoist abides in Non-Action. Freed from all such distinctions, which melt away in the Taoist Heart-and-Mind, the Taoist Returns to Non-Action, to the Wordlessness that leaves no trace.   White is contained   Within Black,   Light shines   In an Empty Room.   This is the Taoist Vision.   The Taoist finds Joy   In unalloyed   Serenity and Calm.         The Book of Taoist Master Zhuang: Every That is also a This, every This is also a That. A thing may not be visible as That, it may be perceived as This. This and That produce each other. Where there is Birth there is Death. Where there is Death there is Birth. Affirmation creates Denial, Denial creates Affirmation. Right creates Wrong, Wrong creates Right. The Taoist's This is also a That, the Taoist's That is also a This.   Waley: The first great principle of Taoism is the relativity of all attributes. Nothing in itself is either long or short. If we call a thing long, we merely mean longer than something else that we take as a standard. What we take as our standard depends on what we are used to . . . All antinomies, not merely high and low, long and short, but Life and Death themselves, merge in the Taoist identity of opposites. The type of the Sage who in true Taoist manner "disappeared" after Achieving Victory is Fan Li (fifth century BC) who, although offered half the kingdom if he would return in triumph with the victorious armies of Yue, "stepped into a light boat and was heard of no more."       The poet Su Dongpo (1037-1101):   Truest words   Cannot be spoken.   Truest sound   Cannot be heard.   The tides of the Ocean   Reach beyond the Mountains,   The subtlest echoes   Are deep in the clouds.   3   Non-Action   Not to Honor the Worthy   Puts an end to Contending   Among the folk.   Not to Prize Rare Goods   Puts an end to Theft   Among the folk.   Not to Display Objects of Desire   Removes Chaos   From the Heart-and-Mind   Of the folk.   The Taoist rules by   Emptying Heart-and-Mind   And Filling Belly,   By softening the Will to Achieve,   And strengthening Bones.   The Taoist frees the folk   From False Knowledge and Desire.   Those with False Knowledge   No longer dare to Act.   The Taoist Accomplishes   Through Non-Action,   And all is well Ruled.         The River Master   The Worthy are those who have Achieved High Rank, and have as a consequence become estranged from the Tao, by involving themselves in worldly affairs. If however they are not publicly rewarded, if they do not receive Honor and Riches, then ordinary folk are not driven by ambition to emulate them and strive for Fame and Glory. Instead they can Return to the Calm of their True Nature. If Rare Goods are not prized in public, then ordinary folk will not be driven by Greed to Acquire them. If the Ruler returns gold to the mountains, casts pearls and precious pieces of jade back into the waters of the Abyss, if the Ruler is pure and uncorrupted, then the common folk will not feel Greed. The Taoist Rules the Nation as if it were Self, emptying Heart-and-Mind of Desire, and the folk Eschew Chaos and Confusion. The Taoist Fills Belly with the Tao, with the One. The Human Heart-and-Mind grows Supple and Soft. The folk no longer Contend.   The Marrow grows full,   The Bones firm.   Free from False Knowledge   And Desire,   The folk Return   To Calm,   To Simplicity and Purity.   They find Peace   In Non-Action,   In the Rhythms of Nature.         Magister Liu   Once False Knowledge and Desire have been extinguished, once the Worthy are no longer honored and Rare Goods are no longer prized, then there is no Contending, no Theft, but instead there is Order, a full Belly, and firm Bones. When the Multitude see such things as Fame and Wealth lying beyond their grasp, they will strive to Acquire them. When rare and highly prized Objects of Desire are put on show, they will steal in order to lay their hands on them.   The Heart-and-Mind,   Free of Desire,   Turns inward   To True Knowledge,   To the Knowledge   That Knows without Knowing.   Then Action is Eschewed,   And all is Accomplished   Through Non-Action,   Through the Pure Breath-Energy   Of the Tao.         JM: Confucius advocated Honoring the Worthy. So did Master Mo (the "neglected rival of Confucius," advocate of Universal Love, ca. 470-ca. 391 BC). One whole section of the Book of Master Mo is entitled "Honoring the Worthy," and contrasts with this teaching of Lao-tzu:   This prevalence of poverty, scarcity, and chaos arises because Rulers have failed to Honor the Worthy and to employ the capable in their government. When the Worthy are numerous in the state, Order will be stable; when the Worthy are scarce, Order will be unstable. Therefore the task of the Ruler lies in multiplying the Worthy.   This conventional Honoring of the Worthy was a pillar of the Chinese meritocracy for centuries, and has lasted to the present day, with all of its concomitant ills-an obsession with social status, ambition, corruption, nepotism, and deadening conformity. The Taoist shuns all of this. In an important sense, Non-Action implies Anarchy.       Excerpted from Tao Te Ching by Gia-Fu Feng, Lao Tzu All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. vii
Book 1

p. 3

Book 2

p. 43

List of Passages for Comparisonp. 89
Appendices
1 The Problem of Authorshipp. 90
2 The Nature of the Workp. 104
Chronological Tablep. 115
Glossaryp. 116
Notesp. 126