Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Translations of the Tao Te Ching

The Tao Te Ching has more translations than any other book in the history of the world; and, if you read passages from two, it's often impossible to tell that they are translations of the same book. Lao Tzu's dedication was to the sense, not to the words. Trying to express that sense made his communication ambiguous and paradoxical, more symbolic rather than literal. Like the famous story of the grandmother pointing at the moon and the young child thinking the moon was her finger, Lao Tzu did all he could to undermine our proclivity toward believing that his words are the same as his meaning. Our translation here sometimes goes back to the original Chinese characters but most of it is a “best of the best” words and phrases taken from other translations as well as our own understanding. Here is a list with commentaries on other translations that we found the most helpful.

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Comments (1)

  1. Shan Dao
    Shan Dao 2 years ago
    "the 'Tao Te Ching' — the presiding expression of not only China's mystical consciousness but of all East Asia's, for Japan's, Korea's, and half of Southeast Asia's cultures derived directly from China."—Huston Smith
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