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Tao te ching : a book about the way and the…
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Tao te ching : a book about the way and the power of the way (edition 1997)

by Laozi.,, Ursula K. Le Guin, Jerome P. Seaton

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Written more than two thousand years ago, the Tao Teh Ching , or "The Classic of the Way and Its Virtue," has probably had a greater influence on Asian thought than any other single book. It is also one of the true classics of the world of spiritual literature. Traditionally attributed to the near-legendary "Old Master," Lao Tzu, the Tao Teh Ching teaches that the qualities of the enlightened sage or ideal ruler are identical with those of the perfected individual. Today, Lao Tzu's words are as useful in mastering the arts of leadership in business and politics as they are in developing a sense of balance and harmony in everyday life. To follow the Tao or Way of all things and realize their true nature is to embdy humility, spontaneity, and generosity. John C. H. Wu has done a remarkable job of rendering this subtle text into English while retaining the freshness and depth of the original. A jurist and scholar, Dr. Wu was a recognized authority on Taoism and the translator of several Taoist and Zen texts and of Chinese poetry.… (more)
Member:TylerWeeks
Title:Tao te ching : a book about the way and the power of the way
Authors:Laozi.,
Other authors:Ursula K. Le Guin, Jerome P. Seaton
Info:Boston ; London : Shambhala, 1998, c1997.
Collections:Your library
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Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

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Like it should, the Tao Te Ching arrived exactly when I needed it. The Tao helped me get through a really rough patch of my life: a dissolving marriage, unbelievable animosity and accusations, and stressful negotiation of parental rights through a nasty family court process. Reading it over and over helped me get through that process with my dignity and without saying or doing anything I now regret or asking for anything that was above and beyond what was reasonable and best for my kids.

"Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?"

That’s Verse 15. I went back to it again and again. I didn’t get a fair parenting plan but the Tao helped me accept that too.

The edition I read back then was the Tao Te Ching: An Illustrated Journey, translated by Stephen Mitchell. Not only did it make me a Taoist but it sent me on a mission to see who Stephen Mitchell was and what else he had to say. Meaning I’ve since read his versions of the Bhagavad Gita, Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet and The Lay of the Love and Death of Cornet Christoph Rilke (reviewed here), the Second Book of the Tao, and The Gospel According to Jesus. I enjoyed and admire all of this books.

One of the things I especially love about Mitchell’s translation is that it refuses to gender everything male. Mitchell states his position on gender in the foreword to the trade edition of this translation (not included in the Providence Press edition) as:

"The reader will note that in the many passages where Lao Tzu describes the Master, I have used the pronoun “she” at least as often as “he.” The Chinese language doesn’t make this kind of distinction; in English we have to choose. But since we are all, potentially, the Master (since the Master is, essentially, us), I felt it would be untrue to present a male archetype, as other versions have, ironically, done. Ironically, because of all the great world religions the teaching of Lao Tzu is by far the most female. Of course, you should feel free, throughout the book, to substitute “he for “she” or vice versa."

Since my first contacts with the Tao I’ve delved deeply into the Yoga Sutra of Patañjali and see a lot of parallels with my yoga and the Tao.

"Weapons are the tools of violence:
all decent men detest them.

Weapons are the tools of fear;
a decent man will avoid them
except in the direst necessity
and, if compelled, will use them
only with the utmost restraint.
Peace is his highest value.
If the peace has been shattered,
how can he be content?
His enemies are not demons,
but human beings like himself.
He doesn’t wish them personal harm.
Nor does he rejoice in victory.
How could he rejoice in victory
and delight in the slaughter of men?

He enters a battle gravely,
with sorrow and with great compassion,
as if he were attending a funeral."

That’s verse 31 and very reminiscent of the Bhagavad Gita and possibly a realistic way to look at the world and the perceived “necessity” of force. Krishna might say this same thing to Arjuna. But it’s even a bit too much for someone who has taken the great vow of yoga and ahimsa, or non-harm.

The Tao has great lessons to teach our politicians and citizens in an increasingly nationalistic world as well:

"A great nation is like a great man:
When he makes a mistake, he realizes it.
Having realized it, he admits it.
Having admitted it, he corrects it.
He considers those who point out his faults
as his most benevolent teachers.
He thinks of his enemy
as the shadow that he himself casts.

If a nation is centered in the Tao,
if it nourishes its own people
and doesn’t meddle in the affairs of others,
it will be a light to all nations in the world."

I could go on and on with the passages I’ve highlighted in the six different editions I own. But I think I’ll leave it at that for now and talk about this edition specifically.

You can imagine how excited I was to see a private press edition of the Tao. Any edition would be on my wish list but a version of Stephen Mitchell’s text made it that much more exciting for me. I was a bit blindsided by it, to tell the truth, with Norman Clayton reaching out to me to let me know that his Providence Press had just published it. Not only that but I had somehow missed it at CODEX, which just goes to show you I need to give myself more time to walk the tables there. Norman had remembered me mentioning my admiration for Stephen Mitchell’s Tao in one of the posts here (probably the Arion Press Rilke?) and that I would love to see a private press edition. And viola, he reached out!

Providence Press is the book imprint of Norman’s Classic Letterpress, which designs and prints for individuals and organizations, including a recent book for the Book Club of California. The stated mission of Providence Press is to “produce books as beautiful as the writing is wise.” While Clayton had already been considering the Tao Te Ching as his first book under the imprint, when Norman moved to Ojai California he learned that Stephen Mitchell lived there, having moved there years previously also from the Bay Area. After contacting Mitchell, and with his generous encouragement, this edition was born. A nice little bit of bookish serendipity,

The Providence Press edition as designed and printed by Norman is simple, understated, and elegant. Like the Tao. The sole illustration, a photograph by Norman’s mother Burneta Clayton, is on the front cover. The Tao is presented here just as verse; no commentary or notes or other distractions. Each verse is beautifully placed on the page with crisp typography using the Davanti typeface. I really applaud the choice of a Coptic binding done by Molly Dedmond as this type of binding was used in early (Christian) spiritual texts, and thus has spiritual roots. It is also nice that this type of binding allows the book to lie flat when studying or meditating on the Tao.

Ursula K. Le Guin, another student of the Tao and favorite author of mine, has this to say about the Tao:

“It is the most lovable of all the great religious texts, funny, keen, kind, modest, indestructibly outrageous, and inexhaustibly refreshing. Of all the deep springs, this is the purest water. To me, it is also the deepest spring.”

AVAILABILITY: Printed in an edition of 125, copies of the edition are still available from Classic Letterpress

FORTHCOMING: Next up for Providence Press is an edition of the Heart Sutra, again in Stephen Mitchell’s translation. Check the presses website in upcoming months for information and I’ll try to keep you posted.

WISHLIST: Given the Providence Press’ mission to “produce books as beautiful as the writing is wise,” I’d love to see some texts that have never (to my knowledge) received the fine press treatment. Two that come to mind are the Yoga Sutra of Patañjali and the anonymous Cloud of Unknowing.
1 vote jveezer | Oct 21, 2020 |
I both can and cannot see what the fuss is about. I'll have to read it again, I think, to start grasping the meanings more completely. ( )
  Jessica_Olin | Sep 17, 2020 |
Can't help but think much of the meaning is lost in translation. I'll try the original version next time! ( )
  bsmashers | Aug 1, 2020 |
Tao Te Ching bitti. Savaş Sanatı'ndan sonra bitirdiğim 2. Çin Edebiyatı kitabı oldu.

Kitap Çin kültürü ve tarihi hakkında biraz bilgisi olan birisinin illaki duyduğu ve Çin halkının üzerinde büyük etkiler meydana getiren Taoizm'in kutsal kitabıdır. Bu kitap yazıldıktan sonra kitapta bahsedildiği şekilde yaşamayı amaç edinen bir din ve dünyaya kitaptaki bakış açısıyla bakan felsefi bir akım doğmuştur.

Kitap Türkçeye Çince aslından mükemmel bir çeviriyle çevrilmiş ve sayfa altlarında yer alan dipnotlarla kitabın anlaşılabilirliği arttırılmış. Ayrıca kitabın adının çevrilmemesi de doğru bir tercih olmuş. Merak edenler için yazayım kitabın adı "Erdemlik Öğretisi" veya "Erdemliğe Giden Yol" anlamına gelmektedir.

Kitap Türkiye'de fazla bilinmiyor ama yakın zamanda, en azından kitap okurları arasında yayılıp okunmasını temenni ediyorum. ( )
  Tobizume | Jun 9, 2020 |
Stephen Mitchell's version of the Tao Te Ching is, according to Huston Smith in his book "World Religions," "as close to being definitive for our time as any I know." That is high praise indeed. This is a slender, handsomely illustrated volume that can be read in half an hour, or as Huston Smith says, over "a lifetime." The Tao is "yin" to Confucianism's "yang" (or vice versa). The Tao is more esoteric, all lightness and poetry. There is wisdom here, but it's romantic - not practical like the Analects of Confucius. I think it depends on your personality which philosophy appeals more to you. After reading it I better understand the meaning of "unclench." ( )
  chas69 | Apr 23, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 127 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (180 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lao Tzuprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Addiss, StephenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ames, Roger T.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blakney, R. B.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blok, J.A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chang Chung-yuanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cleare, JohnPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dale, Ralph AlanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Despeux, CatherineAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Duyvendak, J. J. L.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
English, JaneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ervast, PekkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Etiemble, RenéForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Feng, Gia-FuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hall, David L.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hansen, ChadTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Henricks, Robert G.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jerven, WalterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Julien, StanislasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kia-hway, LiouTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Koskikallio, ToivoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lau, D.C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Le Guin, Ursula K.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Legge, JamesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lombardo, StanleyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
MacHovec, Frank J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mansvelt Beck, B.J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miles, Thomas HTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mitchell, StephenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Needleman, JacobIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nieminen, PerttiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seaton, Jerome P.Contributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ta-Kao, ChuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
TaoLinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ular, AlexanderTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Watson, BurtonIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilhelm, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wing, R. L.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winston, WillowIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Who can find a good woman?

She is precious beyond all things.

Her husband's heart trusts her completely.

She is his best reward.

PROV. 31:10-11 (Mitchell translation)
"Venture not beyond your doors to know the world..."
Dedication
TO MY MOTHER AND FATHER (Mitchell translation)
For A. L. K. and J. P. S.
To Vicks. Who can find a good woman? / She is precious beyond all things. / Her husband's heart trusts her completely. / She is his best reward. Proverbs 31:10-11
TO VICKI (Mitchell translation)
First words
The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. (Mitchell translation)
The way you can go
isn't the real way.
No one actually knows where the Tao Te Ching came from, but this slim book of about five thousand words forms the foundation of classical Chinese philosophy.
I. OPTIMIZING EXPERIENCE:  THIS FOCUS AND ITS FIELD - We will argue that the defining purpose of the Daodejing is bringing into focus and sustaining a productive disposition that allows for the fullest appreciation of those specific things and events that constitute one's field of experience.
The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
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Written more than two thousand years ago, the Tao Teh Ching , or "The Classic of the Way and Its Virtue," has probably had a greater influence on Asian thought than any other single book. It is also one of the true classics of the world of spiritual literature. Traditionally attributed to the near-legendary "Old Master," Lao Tzu, the Tao Teh Ching teaches that the qualities of the enlightened sage or ideal ruler are identical with those of the perfected individual. Today, Lao Tzu's words are as useful in mastering the arts of leadership in business and politics as they are in developing a sense of balance and harmony in everyday life. To follow the Tao or Way of all things and realize their true nature is to embdy humility, spontaneity, and generosity. John C. H. Wu has done a remarkable job of rendering this subtle text into English while retaining the freshness and depth of the original. A jurist and scholar, Dr. Wu was a recognized authority on Taoism and the translator of several Taoist and Zen texts and of Chinese poetry.

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Book description
A cycle of short poems, this is a work of world literature and has the significance of the Bible for more than a quarter of humanity. Written in two halves, the "Tao" ("way") and the "Te" ("virtue"), it is treasured for its poetic statements about life's most profound and elusive truths.
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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 014044131X, 0451530403, 0141043687

Frances Lincoln Publishers

2 editions of this book were published by Frances Lincoln Publishers.

Editions: 0711229643, 0711214379

Columbia University Press

2 editions of this book were published by Columbia University Press.

Editions: 9622014674, 0231118163

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