Tao Te Ching

Tao Te Ching

For nearly two generations, Gia-fu Feng and Jane English's 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 a...

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Title:Tao Te Ching
Author:Lao Tzu
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Edition Language:English

Tao Te Ching Reviews

  • Gerry

    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

    , the widely known and influential Taoist text, written by Lao-Tzu and poetically translated in this edition by Stephen Mitchell. For me, the

    is more folk wisdom than religious treatise and is more useful than a million sermons.

    Where the

    parts company with religious attempts at morality

    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

    , the widely known and influential Taoist text, written by Lao-Tzu and poetically translated in this edition by Stephen Mitchell. For me, the

    is more folk wisdom than religious treatise and is more useful than a million sermons.

    Where the

    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

    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

    , 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

    . 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.

  • Burt

    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,

    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.

  • Bruce

    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.

  • Eddie Watkins

    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

    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.

  • Foad

    "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

    "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.

    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.

  • peiman-mir5 rezakhani

    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 د

    ‎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>

  • Ahmad Sharabiani

    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: راهنم

    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

    ا. شربیانی

  • Dolors

    (Chapter 71)

    Trying to narrow down the philosophy of the

    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

    doesn’t provide answers because there needn’t be questions, just the harmony of moulding to the landscape rather than trying to impose a p

    (Chapter 71)

    Trying to narrow down the philosophy of the

    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

    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

    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

    exults the feminine

    over the masculine

    in the eternal interdependence of opposites, identifying its indwelling suppleness with the intrinsic elements of the Tao.

    (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

    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?

    (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.

  • trivialchemy

    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.

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