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The Second Book of the Tao

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  297 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
"A twenty-first-century form of ancient wisdom . . . Mitchell's flights, his paradoxes, his wonderful riffs are brilliant and liberating." -Pico Iyer
The most widely translated book in world literature after the Bible, Lao-tzu's "Tao Te Ching," or "Book of the Way," is the classic manual on the art of living. Following the phenomenal success of his own version of the "Tao
ebook, 224 pages
Published February 19th 2009 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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Will Jeffries
May 04, 2011 Will Jeffries rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is TRULY amazing. There are so many wonderful sayings compiled into this treasure-trove by Stephen Mitchell. I am so glad that he decided to come out with The Second Book of the Tao - because it sheds some new light on the Tao te Ching-a-ling.

Some profound insights that I gathered from this book:
1. We are close to waking up when we dream that we are dreaming.
2. We're all doing the best we can with what we've been given.
3. Become like the ocean: though there are waves on its surface, in
Gary D.
Ignore or embrace the commentary, the commented on is worth reading.
Loved this small but intense book. It offered so many things to contemplate and so much to sooth a questioning heart.

Apr 19, 2011 Tom rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Most of this book is meaningless aphorisms. It manages to really say nothing about anything.
Nov 12, 2016 O_o rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Steven Mitchell does not know Chinese so he did not translate the Dao De Jing but rather read a couple English versions and took phrases he liked then bastardized them to create this horribly inaccurate version of the Dao De Jing.

This book has been conveying a personal belief of Mitchell's under the guise of Daoism as a selling point, leading thousands of people astray from the path.
Sep 16, 2009 jimstoic rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ultimate-reality
This is the first of Mitchell's books since his interpretation of Tao Te Ching A New English Version (1988) that I've enjoyed as much. He offers a Zen take on the writings of Lao-tzu’s disciple Chuang-tzu and Confucius’s grandson Tzu-ssu. The writing is as beautiful and clear as water. While Mitchell acknowledges, through his translations, that the Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao--that experience cannot be transmitted through writing--he comes quite close. I have only rarely felt so ...more
Jun 22, 2010 Sidewalk_Sotol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sidewalk_Sotol by:
This is a fun, gender-pronoun-flopping version of several Daoist(Taoist) classic poems and stories attributed to the sage Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu) and to Confucius' grandson, Tzu-ssu.

I can't comment as someone who has read numerous iterations of the Dao de Jing (or Tao Te Ching as most older books in English refer to it) or of the classics attributed to Zhuangzi. I therefore can't compare it other books about the Dao. Mitchell admits to playing fast and loose with various English translations of t
We met Stephen Mitchell when he visited the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver. You can listen to his talk about "The Second Book of the Tao" here:

About this podcast:
Bestselling author and translator Stephen Mitchell reads from and discusses his new book "The Second Book of the Tao." The most widely translated book in world literature after the Bible, Lao-tzu’s "Tao Te Ching," or "Book of the Way," is the classic manual on the art of living. Following the
Aug 02, 2011 Scot rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It would be easy to be skeptical to think that anyone could follow up on Lao Tzu's masterpiece with a gem of their own but The Second Book of the Tao manages to do just that! Taking secondary passages by taoist masters in the era following the Tao Te Ching, we get a further glimpse into the "workings" of The Way and each passage is followed by the author's commentary. The passages are both fun and insightful and so many resonated with me. Oddly enough, the author's commentary may have been even ...more
Jul 10, 2011 Nick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stephen Mitchell created one of the best translations of the Tao Te Ching I've read, and now he's followed that achievement up with a remarkable volume of personal insights, musings, and translations from other Taoist works and the Taoist tradition. The result is occasionally a bit helter-skelter, but mostly hits the mark -- at least, as far as I can tell, not being enlightened myself. Mitchell comes as close as anyone writing today in grasping the famously un-graspable essence of the Tao. This ...more
I got this one as an Audio book and I really enjoyed listening to it. In fact I would recommend it as part of someone's daily meditations. It is relaxing to listen to and even helps you to let go of a lot of unnecessary tension.

Life is paradox and contradiction. That is the sum of this book and learning to embrace that will free ones mind from the narrow limits of a 2 dimensional world where truth and reality has to be forced into "either, or".
Benjamin Pearson
Really enjoyed Mitchell's translations (notably his Tao Te Ching and Bhagavad Gita) and this second book of the Tao is absolutely no different. It contains a lot of timeless advice on living and really complements my buddhist research.

This is a book that I will certainly return to again and again, because we all need refreshers as to the nature of the reality every now and again.
Oct 01, 2013 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good read for those who don't know how to be at peace with "life"
I realize (again and again) when I read books of this nature, there is always further to go when it comes to being at peace; like all things, it comes with mental, spiritual and physical health. It all changes with time, physical health will not be defined the same at 20 as it is at 40.
Karl W.
Sep 17, 2009 Karl W. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
MItchell's commentary on the text sometimes reads like a parody of itself. Too many cutesy phrases. I read this book on the heels of Ursula K. Le Guin's delightful rendition of the Tao Te Ching, wherein she makes some interesting and thoughtful comments. Mitchell's book was quite a disappointment to me in comparison.
Sara Gray
Part One of this book on the Tao as loosely translated by Stephen Mitchell is a book I will take with me to a desert island/the grave. The Second has some wisdom in it as well, but I wasn't a big fan of his goofy commentary at times. I liked it better when it was just the translated verses on their own, with commentary in the back for further reference.
Daryl Nash
Sep 14, 2013 Daryl Nash rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: satori
Mitchell's fast and loose modern translations of these taoist and Confucian passages are as delightful as his similar treatment for the Tao Te Ching. However, this time around, he doesn't know when to shut up. His "commentary" veers between the obvious and the ridiculous. Still, the translations make up for it.
Danijel Brestovac
Aug 03, 2010 Danijel Brestovac rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Str. 23: ..ko je um jasen, vse predstavlja priložnost za radost. Za to namreč gre pri razsodnosti.

Str. 41: 'saj ni nič ne dobro ne slabo, takšno je šele z našim mišljenjem.'

Str. 110- Opusti vse svoje predpostavke in svet bo postal povsem smiseln...
Jun 08, 2010 Rick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a little bit disappointed with this book. I've read several of Mitchell's translations, and think he's brilliant, but nothing here really sang to me. I have the Chuang Tzu collection that Merton put together, and I guess I feel this work a little redundant.
Aug 09, 2012 Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book compiles books that were written in the first centuries after the Tao Te Ching, and is one of the most insightful and hilarious sacred texts I’ve ever read. That’s all that needs to be said about it. You need to read it for yourself
Gave to a good friend who recommended Mitchell's Buddhist book....

Mitchell makes great journals too.
Dharia Scarab
Nov 05, 2015 Dharia Scarab rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While not the Tao te Ching, it was an enjoyable read, although the commentary was as often silly as it was insite full.
Emily Dy
For some reason, did not really enjoy this one.

Think I would prefer to read the original Chuang Tzu.
Will Brown
Oct 21, 2012 Will Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, taoism
A very capable follow up to his interpretation of the Tao Te Ching. I love the layout and find his commentaries insightful.
Jul 18, 2012 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The actual translated parts were great. Nuggets of truth throughout. His commentaries on the actual pieces got annoying after a while.
Thomas White
Feb 16, 2015 Thomas White rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Each day as I read from this book, I find great awareness. It is as if there is a sage whispering wisdom. This book is one of the 10 I would choose if I had to only have a few books.
May 24, 2013 Maggie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
excellent. i listened to stephen mitchell reading his book. a double delight: wisdom + a good reader. this book is definitely a companion for the journey.
Jan 15, 2011 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
wow, is this audacious. not sure whether to love it or give mr. mitchell a hip check for trying to pull this off.
Steve Wilson
Nothing can compare the Stephen Mitchell's translation of the "Tao te Ching", but this comes in at a close second. The verses in here are soul-stilling.
Thomax Green
Aug 12, 2013 Thomax Green rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very good compilation and I enjoyed the translations. It was almost as good as his version of the Tao Te Ching.
Teagan rated it really liked it
Oct 02, 2013
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Stephen Mitchell was educated at Amherst College, the Sorbonne, and Yale University, and de-educated through intensive Zen practice. He is widely known for his ability to make old classics thrillingly new, to step in where many have tried before and to create versions that are definitive for our time. His many books include The Gospel According to Jesus, The Second Book of the Tao, two books of fi ...more
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