Tao Te Ching: The Essential Translation of the Ancient Chinese Book of the Tao (Hardcover)
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The most translated book in the world after the Bible, the Tao Te Ching, or “Book of the Tao,” is a guide to cultivating a life of peace, serenity, and compassion. Through aphorisms and parable, it leads readers toward the Tao, or the “Way”: harmony with the life force of the universe. Traditionally attributed to Lao-tzu, a Chinese philosopher thought to have been a contemporary of Confucius, it is the essential text of Taoism, one of the three major religions of ancient China. As one of the world’s great works of wisdom literature, it still has much to teach us today, offering a practical model based on modesty and self-restraint for living a balanced existence and for opening your mind, freeing your thoughts, and attaining greater self-awareness. With its emphasis on calm, simplicity, purity, and non-action, it provides a time-tested refuge from the busyness of modern life.
This new translation seeks to understand the Tao Te Ching as a guide to everyday living and encourages a slow, meditative reading experience. The Tao Te Ching’s eighty-one brief chapters are accompanied by illuminating commentary, interpretation, poems, and testimonials by the likes of Margaret Mead, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. Specially commissioned calligraphy for more than two hundred Chinese characters illustrates the book’s essential themes.
Lao-tzu, whose name means “Old Master,” was, according to legend, a contemporary of Confucius in the sixth century B.C.E. and the founder of the philosophical tradition of Taoism.
John Minford (editor/translator) is the translator of the Viking Penguin edition of the I Ching, for which he won the Australian Academy of the Humanities Medal for Excellence in Translation, as well as the acclaimed Viking Penguin edition of The Art of War. He is an emeritus professor of Chinese at the Australian National University.
“Ancient wisdom for those facing twenty-first-century perplexities . . . Minford writes for ordinary people seeking guidance in everyday life. . . . In simple but resonantly phrased language, [he] somehow does unfold [the Tao’s] message.” —Booklist, starred review
“A wonderful translation—clear and deep.” —Vikram Seth
“My first reaction as a Sinologist to a new translation of the Tao Te Ching is always: ‘Another one?! Whatever for?’ But then I began to read John Minford’s translation, and it immediately seduced me. . . . It has the mark of the craftsman: Its choice of words is not just judicious but also poetic, refreshing the at once limpid and ambiguous original and making it new. . . . The result is a metaphysical feast for those willing to slow down and read this text as it was meant to be read: meditatively.” —John Lagerwey, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
“A wonder and a delight. The simplicity and purity of this translation resonate directly with the original. It conveys the innermost essence of Chinese culture, drawing the reader deep into its enchantment and wisdom. Every word is charged with effortless energy—a radiant union of form and spirit.” —Tang Yuen-ha, Chinese opera artist
“Meditative reading, known as lectio divina, is a Benedictine tradition going back a millennium and a half. John Minford, using the term lectio Sinica, has creatively suggested such an approach as an essential way to read the Tao Te Ching.” —Nicholas Koss, Order of Saint Benedict
“Elegant and poetic, John Minford’s translation of the Tao Te Ching probably comes the closest of any to the essence of the mystical, ineffable Taoist classic. Minford wisely avoids providing one authoritative voice, instead introducing a rich tapestry of historical resonances that induce a meditative experience, as if harmonizing with an ensemble singing an ancient song.” —Yue Zhuang, University of Exeter