PDF Tao Te Ching (Annotated Edition)

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It is also a strong influence on other Chinese schools that teach Confucianism, Legalism and Chinese Buddhism. Chinese painters, poets, gardeners and calligraphers use the philosophies of the book as a source of inspiration. The influence of the Tao Te Ching has spread far throughout Eastern Asia and is one of the most translated books ever written in the history of literature.

In Roman culture, the book was transcribed using the Wade-Giles Romanization system. They transcribed the title as "Daodejing. And finally, the words "Jing" and "Ching" mean "classic" or "the great book. Tao Te Ching is not a long book to read by any means. It is only 5, Chinese characters long with about 81 very brief sections or chapters. The writing is of a classical form of Chinese called zhuanshu.

As the centuries went by, the later versions were written in Lishu and Kaishu. As for the chapters, no one knows if the separated chapters were originally placed there by Laozi or if they were added later on. Some people think they were added later on as a way to help memorize the information and add commentary. The whole book is divided into two main parts. The first part is the Tao Ching, which goes from chapter 1 to chapter The second part is the Te Ching, which goes from chapter 38 to chapter Some even refer to this style of writing as laconic and poetic because of its brief chapters and intentional contradictions.

This writing is strategic in a sense because it creates memorable phrases and then forces the reader to create their own reconciliations from all the supposed contradictions. This is why it takes some people their entire lives to fully understand the message behind the text. For others, they never fully grasp it. Skip to main content. We may end up with something that bears little resemblance to the original, genuine wisdom—and we may not be aware of what we are missing.

Chapter 46 is an example of this.

The Tao Te Ching: Annotated Edition

It starts with the image of fast horses, formerly used by the army for scouting missions, being retired to till the fields. This is the ancient Chinese equivalent of beating swords into plowshares, as well as a deft depiction of peace and harmony. Lao Tzu then contrasts it with the description of a pregnant mare being forced to give birth in the middle of the battlefield—a singularly powerful image that evokes the misery and horrors of war.

W hat happens when this chapter goes through the translation process? In one popular version, all references to horses have disappeared, replaced by factories, trucks, tractors, warheads, and cities. None of these things can be found in the original text, and—obviously—none of them existed in ancient China. This creative license is clearly an interpretation, not a translation. Even more important, it denies the reader the beauty and power of the original vision.

Sometimes translators may guess at the meaning of a character without consulting a dictionary. Some scholars also assert that this is the original meaning, which differs from modern usage. However, there is no compelling evidence to support this assertion, and it contradicts virtually all Chinese commentaries on chapter 1.

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It is the same with dao. It is a reference to pu, the Taoist principle of simplicity. The uncarved block refers to things in their original, primal state, filled with the inherent power of potential and possibilities, before that power is lost to human contrivance as the block is carved into a specific form.

Plain wood represents the original state of simplicity far better than the uncarved block. A plain piece of wood may be found in nature, completely untouched by human hands.

The uncarved block, on the other hand, has already been worked on—someone had to cut a plain piece of wood in order to get a block out of it. It is also an obstruction to those who seek the authentic teaching. T ranslation T echniques Ultimately, my translation was an iterative process in which I took each semantic unit a character, a word, or an expression from the original text and searched for the best approximation in English.

This search yielded results that fell into one of three possible categories. The first category consists of words that have been formally accepted into the English language and show up in mainstream dictionaries. They should be used in a translation whenever possible for maximum accuracy. T ao, chi, yin, and yang are good examples.

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Tao Te Ching by Derek Lin | Waterstones

Not many words enjoy this level of acceptance, so this category remains sparse. The second category consists of expressions that have a direct English equivalent. Virtue means not only a human goodness compassion, patience, generosity, etc. For instance, w u w ei, although well known to students of the Tao, has not yet made it into the English language. Therefore, it should not be translated literally. Several past attempts to translate this have yielded poor results. Other examples in this category, such as chien li and bai xing, can best be explained fully on the www. The site offers a wealth of material specifically designed to complement this book.

Please see Suggestions for Further Reading for additional details.

Tao Te Ching Explained

A final piece of my translation work had to do with the use of punctuation. Although the concept of punctuation marks did not exist in ancient Chinese, the language did have its own specific ways of denoting various effects of speech. For example, a larger than usual gap between characters meant a slight pause, equivalent to a comma. Special characters at the end of a sentence served the same functions as the period, question mark, and exclamation point.

These special characters are no longer used in modern Chinese, which has adopted a set of punctuation marks similar to punctuation used in English. In my translation, however, I wanted to approximate the open, porous feel of ancient Chinese—the native tongue of the Tao Te Ching—so I chose to omit periods and most other punctuation except where necessary for clarity.


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The net effect of all these techniques is a translation that tunes in to the Tao Te Ching with maximum fidelity and minimum static. I understand that not everyone places as much importance on this as I do; at the same time, my opinion is that a translation for a sacred text should be a mirror that reflects the original as perfectly as possible. Warped mirrors may be amusing for the funhouse, but they are not so great for daily use, which is the ultimate goal of the Tao Te Ching—to be both an inspiration and a practical guide to your path through this life.

It seems to be the source of all things It blunts the sharpness Unravels the knots Dims the glare Mixes the dusts2 So indistinct! It seems to exist3 I do not know whose offspring it is4 Its image is the predecessor of the Emperor5 5 Heaven and Earth are impartial1 And regard myriad things as straw dogs The sages are impartial And regard people as straw dogs2 The space between Heaven and Earth Is it not like a bellows?

Empty, and yet never exhausted It moves, and produces more Too many words hasten failure3 Cannot compare to keeping quiet4 6 The valley spirit, undying Is called the Mystic Female1 The gateway of the Mystic Female Is called the root of Heaven and Earth2 It flows continuously, barely perceptible When utilized, it is never exhausted3 7 Heaven and Earth are everlasting The reason Heaven and Earth can last forever Is that they do not exist for themselves Thus they can last forever1 Therefore the sages: Place themselves last but end up in front2 Are outside of themselves and yet survive Is it not all due to their selflessness?

That is how they can achieve their own goals3 8 The highest goodness resembles water Water greatly benefits myriad things without contention It stays in places that people dislike Therefore it is similar to the Tao1 Dwelling at the right place Heart with great depth2 Giving with great kindness3 Words with great integrity4 Governing with great administration5 Handling with great capability6 Moving with great timing7 Because it does not contend It is therefore beyond reproach8 9 Holding a cup and overfilling it Cannot be as good as stopping short Pounding a blade and sharpening it Cannot be kept for long1 Gold and jade fill up the room No one is able to protect them Wealth and position bring arrogance And leave disasters upon oneself2 When achievement is completed, fame is attained Withdraw oneself3 This is the Tao of Heaven 10 In holding the soul and embracing oneness Can one be steadfast, without straying?


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    • How limitless it is! Ordinary people are bright I alone am muddled Ordinary people are scrutinizing I alone am obtuse6 Such tranquility, like the ocean Such high wind, as if without limits7 The people all have goals And I alone am stubborn and lowly I alone am different from them And value the nourishing mother8 21 The appearance of great virtue Follows only the Tao The Tao, as a thing Seems indistinct, seems unclear So unclear, so indistinct Within it there is image So indistinct, so unclear1 Within it there is substance So deep, so profound Within it there is essence2 Its essence is supremely real Within it there is faith From ancient times to the present Its name never departs3 To observe the source of all things How do I know the nature of the source?

      Sincerity becoming whole, and returning to oneself 23 Sparse speech is natural Thus strong wind does not last all morning Sudden rain does not last all day What makes this so?

      Tao Te Ching: Tao Te Ching of Lao-tzu: Book of the Way (Annotated Edition) (Paperback)

      So ethereal! Independent and changeless Circulating and ceaseless It can be regarded as the mother of the world1 I do not know its name Identifying it, I call it Tao Forced to describe it, I call it great Great means passing Passing means receding Receding means returning2 Therefore the Tao is great Heaven is great Earth is great The sovereign is also great3 There are four greats in the universe And the sovereign occupies one of them Humans follow the laws of Earth Earth follows the laws of Heaven Heaven follows the laws of Tao Tao follows the laws of nature4 26 Heaviness is the root of lightness Quietness is the master of restlessness1 Therefore the sages travel the entire day Without leaving the heavy supplies Even though there are luxurious sights They are composed and transcend beyond2 How can the lords of ten thousand chariots Apply themselves lightly to the world?

      Is it not so?