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Dao De Jing: A Philosophical Translation
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Dao De Jing: A Philosophical Translation

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  57,988 ratings  ·  2,108 reviews
In 1993, archaeologists unearthed a set of ancient bamboo scrolls that contained the earliest known version of the Dao de jing. Composed more than two thousand years ago, this life-changing document offers a regimen of self-cultivation to attain personal excellence and revitalize moral behavior. Now in this luminous new translation, renowned China scholars Roger T. Ames an ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 30th 2003 by Ballantine Books (first published -500)
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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.
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 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
...more
Dolors
Oct 06, 2014 Dolors rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those wanting to hear the other version
Recommended to Dolors by: the voices
Shelves: read-in-2014
“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 p
...more
Monk
Mar 13, 2010 Monk rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Philosophers, Followers of Eastern Thought
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,
...more
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 ...more
Reham Mohssen

عاش معلم الزن ريوكان فى كوخ متواضع عند سفح الجبل ,فى إحدى الأمسيات دخل الكوخ لص فوجد المكان خاليا ً من أى شئ له قيمة, وبينما وهو خارج من الباب أمسك به ريوكان الذى وصل لتوه من الخارج وقال له :- لقد أتعبت نفسك فى الوصول غلى هذا المكان النائى لتجده فارغاً , وإنه ليعز على أن أتركك تذهب خالِ الوفاض , إليك ثوبى هدية , تسمر اللص مكانه ذاهلا بينما كان ريوكان يخلع ثوبه ويقدمه إليه , وفى غمرة إرتباكه أخذ الثوب وولى هارباً , جلس ريوكان عارياً تقريباً قبالة النافذة يرقب القمر الذى توسطها , ثم هز رأسه قائلاً
...more
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.
Heidi Parton
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 examp
...more
Jeremy
This has got to be one of the most perennially beguiling, elliptical things ever written. And it seems all the more mysterious to me because so much of it is couched as this extremely practical, almost Machiavellian political advice. Having been schooled entirely in the western intellectual tradition, with its notions of hierarchy, dualism and progression (historical, socio/cultural or otherwise), this was a complete mind-fuck to me. It sort of reminds me of Heidegger, with those really crazy, c ...more
Rob
Feb 06, 2008 Rob rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: aspiring sages
highlights:
3 - not collecting treasures prevents stealing.
13- accept disgrace willingly
23- he who does not trust will not be trusted
46- he who knows that enough is enough will always have enough
57- the more rules and regulations, the more thieves and robbers there will be

lowlights: eh, pretty much the whole translation. i guess this version is popular because it has nice calligraphy of the original chinese and BW photos of nature accompanying the english translation. but despite not having read
...more
James
The Tao Te Ching is a book that cannot be read directly. Unfortunately, I have little experience reading books indirectly, so I found this a difficult book to read, end even more difficult to discern what was being said by the author.
A friend told me that he thought Heraclitus, the Greek pre-Socratic philosopher, was somewhat like Lao Tzu. Heraclitus said "you can't step in the same river twice". He believed that reality was a flux composed of a unity of opposites. I suppose it is possible to c
...more
Alex
Feb 13, 2010 Alex rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: achievers, lost souls, curious
To a Westerner, the Tao Te Ching presents another perspective for understanding meaning and effectiveness. For example, the Tao Te Ching shows how movement towards progress creates movement against progress, "Do not exalt the worthy, and the people will not compete... Do not display objects of desire, and the people's minds will not be disturbed. Therefore the ordering of the sage empties their minds, fills their bellies... and causes the wise ones not to dare to act. He does nothing, and there ...more
Evan
The description of this book is wrong:

"Like Stephen Mitchell, acclaimed author and poet Ursula K. Le Guin has attempted a nonliteral, poetic rendition of the Tao Te Ching"

It's nothing like Mitchell's pretty but totally opaque translation. LeGuin gives you readable ideas, arguments in poetry, a philosophy to ponder. Of all the translations I have encountered, this is the only one that gives you a point of entry into the rich treasury of ideas in the Tao Te Ching.
W.M. Driscoll
I had actually forgotten that I had this translation of Lao Tzu's classic work on my shelf, serviceable as it is. Since this is the only one I could find to review, I'll talk about the text here. I was given a less scholarly and more poetic version of the Tao Te Ching as a young teen, entitled The Way of Life by Witter Bynner, and it damn near blew my head off my shoulders. The worldview was so profound and radically different from what I had been exposed to up to that point, it caught my fancy ...more
soheila
حواست را نادیده بگیر
زندگی ات را فراموش کن
گره هایت راباز کن
نگاهت را نرم و لطیف کن
و گرد و خاکت را بتکان
این هویت اصلی توست
چون تائو باش

فرزانه هنگام غم آرام باقی می ماند
بدی به دل او راهی ندارد
چون کمک کردن را ترک کرده
بزرگترین کمک کننده است

شکست یک فرصت است
اگر دیگری را مقصر بدانی
پایانی برای مقصر دانستن دیگران وجود نخواهد داشت
فرزانه به وظایفش عمل می کند
و اشتباهاتش را اصلاح می نماید
او آنچه ضروری است را به انجام می رساند
و از دیگران چیزی طلب نمی کند
Poo1987 Roykaew
May 27, 2008 Poo1987 Roykaew rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: imaginative patient book worms
Ancient poems contain numerous interesting things, pleasure of silent air; coolness of still water; beauty of trees; perfume of blossom; riches of emotion; and the most important thing, brightness of wisdom. What does appear to the readers depends on their ways of interpretation. It is, in my opinion, the law of philosophy.

Tao Te Ching is not good for ones impatient and unimaginative. Short and complex, but sound-like-mad poems might bore you easily. I don't advise you using it for studying in c
...more
Anne
Sep 20, 2007 Anne rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: non-fiction, religion
First, a disclaimer. I do not read the Tao To Ching as a Taoist, a student of Chinese philosophy, or a secularist. I don't read it within its own proper social context. I read it as a Wiccan, and I look to it to inform my practice of my own, separate religion. But that being said, I think the Tao has principles which are applicable to everyone, and which provide a valuable counterweight to the baffling complexity of modern society.

As a Wiccan, I've found that the tao provides a necessary elemen
...more
Nick
I collect translations of the Tao Te Ching because I figure that if I read enough different ones I may finally understand this beautiful but elusive work. Ursala K. LeGuin did one (not bad; not as good as I hoped). Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English did one that is still my favorite, because it's clear and simple. But recently I stumbled on this one by Stephen Mitchell from 1988, and it's wonderful. The language is straightforward and colloquial and puts some of the more opaque chapters in a new light ...more
Robin Clark
A beautiful book to read forever. Every time I read Tao Te Ching, the book feels new again, fresh, as if only just discovered. It feels natural to embrace the simplicity of the words and meanings. To deeply connected to them, and be carried along in a timeless experience.

Reading Lao Tzu is like looking into a mirror and seeing the reflection of the universe there. A state of peace and happiness is often felt as I read through the pages, and a deep inner connection is constantly renewed.

A primord
...more
Shikha
A book to be read in parts... indigestible if read in a go... A book to be read time and again, only to find newer revelations each time.
Smeg

When Confucius asked Lao Tzu to tutor him in the rites of THE TAO TE CHING, Lao Tzu replied:

The very bones of those you talk about have turned to dust. All that remains of them is their words. You know that when a noble lives in times which are good, he travels to court in a carriage. But when times are difficult, he goes where the wind blows. Some say that a wise merchant hides his wealth and thus seems poor. Likewise the sage, if he has great internal virtue, seems on the outside to be a fool.
...more
Sidhartha
the tao that can be told is not the eternal tao...
Farhan Khalid
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 go
...more
Jacopo
Questo è un libro unico nel suo genere: si propone di insegnare ciò che non può essere insegnato, parlando di ciò che non può essere detto. Non c'è dunque da stupirsi se risulti inizialmente ostico, tant'è che quando, tempo fa, iniziai a leggere una versione non commentata, lo trovai talmente criptico da risultare incomprensibile. Per fortuna poi ho trovato questa edizione che presenta un commento eccellente, dettagliato, ma non accademico e che unisce più traduzioni in modo chiaro ed elegante.

M
...more
A.J.
(My translation by R.B. Blakney)

Because I'm a born again skeptic, I do my best to avoid the obligatory respectful concessions towards mystical texts, especially ones that celebrate the 'wisdom of ancient China' on the cover. I arch an eyebrow at the thought that ancient peoples were in any way privy to profound revelations that have somehow escaped us modern folk, what with our freaky science and all. We do stand both technologically and philosophically on the shoulders of giants, but we must be
...more
Yasiru (reviews will soon be removed and linked to blog)
'My words are easy to understand and easy to perform,
Yet no man under heaven knows them or practices them.
My words have ancient beginnings.
My actions are disciplined.
Because men do not understand, they have no knowledge of me.

Those that know me are few;
Those that abuse me are honored.
Therefore the sage wears rough clothing and holds the jewel in his heart.'


- Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching (Feng and English translation)


It is interesting that Eastern religious texts are so much more serene and calm (
...more
Rsoeffker
Being a very amateur historian, I noticed something about this book that struck me as very sinister.

For ever nugget of wisdom, there was much in here that said, "Dude, if your poor, just be glad that your poor. People who try to better themselves do nothing but suffer. Just enjoy your dirt floor"

This of course reminded me much of Huxley's writing from "A Brave New World". Lao Tzu would have no problem finding a job in Huxley's setting. They would love to have this guy writing chants/slogans for
...more
Charles
I've literally read 10 different translations of the Tao Te Ching. If I was going to recommend just one to a friend, this would be it.

There are more careful and scholarly translations (such as Robert G. Henricks'), but Le Guin's translations is highly readable and poetic. She takes poetic liberties with the language (favoring the pithy), but - unlike most of the translations that take liberties - she stays close to the spirit of the original. It rarely feels like she is projecting her own inter
...more
Abailart
This is a coffe table translation with notes and appropriately moody black and white photographs. Pleasant enough but the 'translation' is simply a melding of other English translations, possibly to be congruent with the writer's own conceptual scheme. It does read well, but there is so much 'Tao' about these days that the bare wisps of what was probably a series of fragments composed by different authors hzve become saturated with heavily westernised conceptualisations. Here, the wearisome left ...more
Hilda
The one book I refer to over and over again. Each time you read it you discover a new pearl of wisdom. I do not think it's imperative to read it in the original Chinese as the book itself is about a thing that cannot be put into words to begin with. Having said that, the best approach to such a theme would be to try to read as many versions possible.
I find Stephen's translation excellent, as he has an extensive background translating religious texts and has the invaluable experience of having g
...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
How is the logos different from the Way in the Tao Te Ching? 6 30 Sep 25, 2014 03:07PM  
writing versus viewing versus audio 2 9 Aug 23, 2014 02:53PM  
Theme of the Tao Te Ching 11 85 Aug 14, 2014 04:02PM  
Favorite Translation 10 62 Jan 20, 2014 11:18AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Original publication date for book with many editions 4 74 Nov 25, 2013 07:42PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect copyright date 5 29 Nov 12, 2013 08:55PM  
Simple ways of being in the world 11 119 Jun 01, 2013 12:03AM  
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Lao Tzu (Chinese: 老子; pinyin: Lǎozǐ; Wade-Giles: Laosi; also Laozi, Lao Tse, Lao Tu, Lao-Tsu, Laotze, Laosi, Lao Zi, Laocius, Lao Ce, and other variations) was a mystic philosopher of ancient China, best known as the author of the Tao Te Ching (often simply referred to as Laozi). His association with the Tao Te Ching has led him to be traditionally considered the founder of Taoism (pronounced as " ...more
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“Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.”
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“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.” 3257 likes
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