This blog is for people interested in the meaning of the Tao Te Ching.
As you perhaps know the Tao Te Ching (translated the Classic of Tao and Te) was written by Lao Tzu with the main intent of providing a handbook of wisdom. Many tried to explain the Book in phylosophical terms – only a few stressed its immediate utility as a guide to the everyday living. This feature is dealt with on this blog.
There are two main difficulties when we try to decode the Book’s text:
1. Its language 0f ancient Chinese; this issue explains why we don’t have an accurate translation of the Book.
2. Its wisdom, mainly Taoist, which operates with strange terms such as: tao, yin-yang, wu, wu-wei and fu. Western people are not familiar with them and much less with their meaning.
3. Its antiquity. Many considers the Book a piece of ancient Chinese cultural history, something one should put in a museum, or a work dealing with the occult.
One have to face all these aspects in order to seize the real message of the book and its actuality. And the most difficult of all are the concepts. For example. here’s what Lao Tzu himself told us about the Tao:
The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and
unchanging Tao. The name that can be named is not the enduring and
(Conceived of as) having no name, it is the Originator of heaven
and earth; (conceived of as) having a name, it is the Mother of all
Always without desire we must be found,
If its deep mystery we would sound;
But if desire always within us be,
Its outer fringe is all that we shall see.
Did you grasp the meaning of this passage? I doubt you did!
So I suggest you start with the Summary section of this blog. Then follow the Tao-Te, the Teachings and Comments.
Regarding the comments, please keep in mind that not all you already read on the Net are accurate! So you should start from the scratch with ours and see if they fit!
Moreover, when reading the comments, please keep an empty mind. Why? Because one should forget everything he/she thinks he/she knows in order to learn new things. This idea is not Taoist – one may find it in Christianity too. In the Gospel of Thomas one may read: When the disciple is empty he/she is full of Light. When he/she is full, he/she is full of Darkness.
Here too emptiness is the key!
Emptiness is the key with Taoist too. Remember the quote:
The thirty spokes unite in the one nave; but it is on the empty
space (for the axle), that the use of the wheel depends.
The wheel usage depends on the empty space inside the nave. The more with the learning process – it depends of the emptiness in the mind of students.
What is emptiness (wu) and what is it good for, many tried to explain recurring to all kind of speculations. Philosophy only will not help. We need more: direct experience with the empty mind. We must live and act like the Taoist Masters did!
Now a few things about translations. I use to read James Legge’s version of Tao Te Ching. There are many translations, and many will come soon or later, and what is worst they are not similar. This make the choice of the best one an impossible task. Many ask what is the best? I use to answer: there’s no such thing!
- Lao Tzu and Tao Te Ching PDF
I want to finish this intro with the presentation of a good guide to the Tao Te Ching, meaning it explains everything in plain words (like at school) – it is a PDF ebook that may be downloaded right now. Click here to learn more.