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


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library BL1900.L26 F49 1972B Adult Mass Market Paperback Central Closed Stacks-Oversize
Central Library BL1900.L3 F46 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ

On Order



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

Dale, a teacher of alternative medicine and author of Acupuncture with Your Fingers, offers a new translation of the ancient Chinese text credited by legend to the sixth-century sage Lao Tzu. Relying on several earlier translations from Chinese, Dale lovingly renders the 81 sections into verse rather than prose. Accompanied by Cleare's evocative black-and-white nature photographs, each poem is titled and stands alone. Included are Dale's informed commentaries for each verse that present the meaning of Lao Tzu's words for life today. For example Verse 30, "Defense and Aggression," is interpreted as permitting defense against violence, but never taking revenge or attempting to conquer others through the use of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. One meaning of Verse 49, "Wisdom," is that each human, no matter how compromised and corrupted, has an innate humanity in his or her core. Dale uses the last verse, "The Paradoxes of Life," to summarize the meanings in the first 80. He contends that despite the evil uses that technology has been put to, such as the development of weapons of mass destruction, it is possible to transform this technological knowledge into a mutually dependent system of economy and communications that may be used to meet the needs of people worldwide. This transformation is a way for the modern world to live within Lao Tzu's Great Integrity, a life of harmony with one another. (Apr.) (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



From Yi-Ping Ong's Introduction to Tao Te Ching The Tao Te Ching is one of the most widely translated classics of all time and is without doubt the most widely translated work in Chinese. From East to West, generations of readers have marveled at its mystical yet simple profundity. It is considered to be the single most important text of Taoism. However, the question of how exactly it should be classified does not admit of a clear answer. Is the Tao Te Ching a book of ethics? Is it a religious text? Is it philosophical, especially given its focus on the deepest and truest way of seeing reality? Or is it, in fact, a work of literary genius--playful, poetic, paradoxical? No doubt the text has aspects of each and can be enjoyed for its poetry no less than for its reflections on human affairs, life, the universe, and the nature of the good. Nevertheless, one might wonder if there is an essential message to the Tao Te Ching and whether, as a consequence, there is a genre to which this message belongs. Many have called it a book of wisdom, part of the so-called "wisdom tradition" that predates any single religion and that finds expression in texts as disparate as the Bhagavad Gita , the Socratic dialogues, and the biblical book of Proverbs. These works typically extol the study of both virtue and the obstacles to virtue; they attempt to reveal the path to right relations between humans, and to right relations between humans and the universe. Like the Tao Te Ching , these texts often focus on two primary methods by which one can acquire a deeper knowledge of virtue: gaining self-knowledge and rejecting worldly aims and standards. However, if the Tao Te Ching is to be thought of as a book of wisdom, what sense can be made of its attacks on wisdom and virtue? "Get rid of 'holiness' and abandon 'wisdom' and the people will benefit a hundredfold," it proclaims (chapter 19). And in another passage, on the incommensurability of the Tao and virtue, we are told: "True virtue is not virtuous / Therefore it has virtue. / Superficial virtue never fails to be virtuous / Therefore it has no virtue" (chapter 38). Upon encountering passages such as these, even the most dedicated reader may feel a temptation to reinterpret or simplify away the ensuing confusion. However, before dismissing these paradoxes as senseless, or relegating them to the level of mere word play, we must go back to the beginning--the beginning of the text, that is. There we are told, "The Tao that can be followed is not the eternal Tao. / The name that can be named is not the eternal name" (chapter 1). The internal resistance of the text itself to categorization, especially as a work that attempts to teach the nature of virtue in a way that can be "named" or "followed," is no accident. As with most texts that are as ancient as the Tao Te Ching , there remains some controversy over both the historical dating of the work and the biographical details of its author, Lao Tzu. The traditional view dates the text back to the sixth century B.C., largely on the basis of accounts describing a meeting between Confucius and Lao Tzu. These accounts describe Lao Tzu as an older man who is a contemporary of the younger Confucius (551--479 B.C.). However, reports of the supposed meeting were not accepted as tradition until the middle of the third century B.C., thus rendering their authority somewhat doubtful. Most modern scholars agree that the Tao Te Ching emerged in the late fourth century or early third century, about 2,500 years ago. In fact, stone tablets dated to around 300 B.C. have been found engraved with recognizable fragments of the text. Such a date would place the writing of the text at the height of one of the most intellectually productive times in Chinese history, known as the "Hundred Schools of Thought." During this time a multitude of philosophies were developed and a rich culture of intellectual debate flourished. Besides Taoism, other schools such as Confucianism, Legalism, and Mohism gave rise to the central classical texts that were to exert a great influence on Chinese thought over the next two millennia. The name "Lao Tzu" was not the personal name of the author, but one bestowed upon him out of respect: "Lao" means "old" or "venerable," and "Tzu" is an honorific term attached to the names of scholars that can be roughly translated as "master." Very little was recorded about the actual life of Lao Tzu, and consequently there is much disagreement regarding his historical existence. Although he is mentioned on scrolls dating as far back as 400 B.C., many have attributed this appearance in the historical record to mere legend. Indeed, the legends surrounding the life of Lao Tzu are truly fantastic. The historian Ssu-ma Ch'ien, author of the Shih chi ( Records of the Historian ), reports claims that Lao Tzu lived to more than two hundred years of age! Other legends maintain that he was born with white hair. According to Taoist tradition, he was an archivist who worked in the imperial library of the Zhou Dynasty court. It was there that he supposedly met Confucius, who had come to inquire about propriety and rites. Lao Tzu proceeded to dazzle him with his deep insight into the meaninglessness of these basic tenets of Confucian morality. According to this same story, Lao Tzu later resigned from his post in the Zhou court, then traveled west on a water buffalo to reach the great desert. He was stopped by a guard at the westernmost gate. This guard demanded that Lao Tzu--who had never, until this point, written down a word of his teachings--leave a record of his wisdom before he departed forever into the desert. The result of this request was the Tao Te Ching . Excerpted from Tao Te Ching by Gia-Fu Feng 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
1 The Problem of Authorshipp. 90
2 The Nature of the Workp. 104
Chronological Tablep. 115
Glossaryp. 116
Notesp. 126

Google Preview