We're all so busy these days. And distracted. Who has time to pause and ponder on much of anything beyond what we're grabbing for dinner after school or work? That is, if we even have time for dinner. So at first glance this almost-400 page book with its obvious philosophical leanings appears a little daunting. But dig in and you'll quickly see that it is not a book to be read in one concentrated time period, but rather taken a step at a time as a meditative process.
Each chapter is based on one of the 81 verses of the ancient Chinese wisdom and philosophy of the Tao Te Ching and beckons the reader to stop and think before moving on with his/her busy life. Dr. Dyer studied numerous translations of the Tao, meditated on his own interpretations, and observed how each verse influenced his thinking (and life) for the day. Each chapter begins with the actual verse from the Tao, followed by a title which summarizes the chief learning, followed by Dr. Dyer's comments and interpretations. Each chapter ends with a short instruction on a way to "Do the Tao Now." The instructions are deceptively simple ranging from thoughts to hold in your mind to actions you can take. Some actions can take all day (such as a suggested fast for a day); others can be done in minutes, such as expressing kindness toward another.
The notion that changing your thinking can change your life is found in almost all cultures and writings since early civilizations. This philosophy is at the heart of the most successful psychological treatments for depression, anxiety, and other disorders. The Tao provides one more example of this powerful philosophy, and Dr. Dyer nicely walks us through it.
If I had to summarize this book in one word it would be "peace." There is something about the writing which demands that you slow down, focus for a moment on the present, and take just a few minutes to detach from the chaos of your life into a true "moment of Zen." Keep it by your bed, read a chapter before going to sleep or when you first wake up and notice what begins to change in your life.
REVIEW UPDATE: As I continue to spend time with this book, I continue to be impressed. Because each chapter is only 4-6 pages long, my initial impression was that one could read a chapter a night. And you can- but the thoughts in each chapter are so intriguing and interesting that I find I wanted to linger over them for several days. This book deserves to be savored. There's also an interesting mystery in the epilogue. Dr. Dyer closes with a brief discussion of a personal incident that very much challenged his beliefs and work with the Tao. He writes, "I was presented with the greatest personal challenge of my life." He goes on to describe his great hurt and pain. I assume he had his reasons for not explaining the event in greater detail, but it leaves the reader wanting to know more- and specifically how he applied to Tao to overcome his feelings. Perhaps he will enlighten us in a future book or CD.
on August 11, 2007
The author changed his lifestyle completely and took an entire year to study and put into practice this way of thinking and living. Dr Dyer committed himself to this work wholeheartedly and it shows. If you've read his other works, I think you'd agree that this takes us/him to another level.
Dr. Dyer helps "western" readers of today understand the sayings of the Tao. He interprets them for us to use in our everyday lives, as he has. The overall feeling of the book is one of calm acceptance and can help those who read it to reach this calm acceptance for themselves.
Dyer uses concepts such as trusting in your own nature, living contented, getting flexible in your thinking, to name a few.
One of the things I like about Dyer's work is that he wants you to DO something with these ideas. For one example, start letting go of your things. For another, he encourages being in nature an hour a day. And, he encourages you in that, whatever you want to become, be or do, take just one step to get started. (This from the most well known of the verses, "The journey of a 1,000 miles begins with the first step.")
After reading the ideas presented, I slept better than I had in a long time and woke up happy. That's worth a good review.
Wayne Dyer has created a vast community of readers because of the level of heart he shares, as he writes his books. If you've seen Wayne in person or being interviewed on PBS, you can sense the gentleness of his nature, and his strength of character shines through. And if you have followed Wayne's career as a writer and reluctant guru, you have seen his books grow in stature over time. They have become more concerned with matters of the Spirit, as the ultimate way to create a life of joy, abundance and peace.
Even though each of his previous books has been wonderful, I believe that this book will become the hallmark of his work. Unlike many of his books which you can read through from cover to cover, this book is designed to be savored, a page at a time, and it is full of gentle life lessons that are designed to help you create a more joyous life.
The book is a compilation of translations of the 81 essays written by Lao-tzu, a highly spiritual being who lived in China hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus. These verses were called the Tao Te Ching or the Great Way, and were revered by many, and translated many times. Wayne researched the translations, selected those he preferred, compiled them, and then interpreted them to make them more accessible to modern day readers. The book is made up of 81 chapters, each with a topic that makes living the Tao more possible, in a way that is inspirational, moving and timely.
This is the sort of book you might choose to read first thing in the morning before you start your day, or at the end of the day, as a review of your day, or both. This book is highly recommended for those seeking a source of spiritual guidance on living a richer, fuller, and more joyous life.
Tao Te Ching..meaning Book of The Way, or book of the Word. One of the best books ever written. Or, if you read the author's insights in the preface, Book of the Way-ne Dye-r (adder of color and light) : )
If you are like most people, you may be wondering should I get this particular version, and how does it compare with other versions or his earlier book.
No matter how great a writer you think Wayne Dyer is, he did not write the Tao, yet his rendition is consistent with the best versions I have read. The difference between this and his earlier book, Living the wisdom of the Tao, being the short essays of several pages, offering insights on each verse.
Stephen Mitchell's version has worked best for me, and it has no essays. The Tao concepts bypass ego based thinking, and the idea of doing without doing yet getting things done allows a higher more authentic way of thinking to inform your being and your action. You can apply this wu wei (effortless action) principle anywhere.
One Jonathan Star version has Chinese symbols at the back, with multiple meanings of each symbol. This allows you to come up with your own version of the Tao, and would really open up your thinking on the Tao.
The Tao is always present within you.
You can use it any way you want.
81 verses all less than one page. Like any great mystery, the Tao is there to be experienced and not necessarily understood. Here is a selection from verse 81 to illustrate the difference between different versions.
True words aren't eloquent;
Eloquent words aren't true;
Wise men don't need to prove their point;
Men who need to prove their point aren't wise.
Here is what Dyer writes.
True words are not beautiful;
Beautiful words are not true;
Good men do not argue;
Men who argue are not good.
Notice a difference in meaning?
I bought this for my sister, because she loves Wayne Dyer's books. I recommend reading each verse several times and consider it line by line, see what meaning you get, put it aside and compare with Wayne's opinion later. The more you focus on the verses, and getting your own insights, the more you will get out of it.
According to the author, this book arose from a year of meditation. I suspect if he wrote a new edition five years from now, his quality of insight would be even more profound because it's an ongoing process. Many of his insights differed from my own, some better, others not so much.
For example Verse 44 to me seems to be about values, knowing what's important, not being attached to your identity and finding contentment within. He writes about Living by Knowing When to Stop. His verse words here differ significantly from the Mitchell version. That's why, if the Tao moves you I recommend you read more than one version.
I also recommend The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, a classic book of wisdom, The Dhammapada featuring the succinct teachings of the Buddha, and The Way of Chuang Tzu by Thomas Merton, and if you wish to read a humorous personal take on the Tao, I recommend the Tao of Willie by Willie Nelson.
I think you will find it helpful.
on August 13, 2007
Mr. Dyer has a large following in the "self-help" genre. In this book he attempts to use a classic text of ancient Taoism as a vehicle for his latest commercial project. I was not impressed with Mr. Dyer's understanding of the Tao as presented in this work.
I don't see the success of this work as a negative for Taoism, as it is my hope the commercial success of this book will lead more Western readers to look deeply into Taoism.
If you enjoyed the pieces of the Tao used in Mr. Dyer's work, I hope you'll read more about Taoism. Amazon has a fine selection of Taoist books.
I humbly suggest you consider another Translation of the Tao Te Ching. For example, the Penguins Classics translation of the Tao Te Ching. Here is the link on Amazon:
Tao Te Ching (Penguin Classics)
The Merton translation of the Chuang-Tzu is excellent, the Chuang-Tzu is considered one of the Taoist classics. Here is the link on Amazon:
The Way of Chuang Tzu (Shambhala Library)
The Huainazi, also known as The Book of Leadership and Strategy is one of my favorites:
The Book of Leadership and Strategy: Lessons of the Chinese Masters
Also, Lao-Tzu's Treatise on the Response of the Tao (T'ai-shang Kan-ying P'ien) should not be overlooked and it offers a guide to living which readers of Mr. Dyer's works might appreciate:
Lao-Tzu's Treatise on the Response of the Tao (The Sacred Literature)
Or, if you prefer lighter reading, consider the Tao of Pooh which illustrates some core Taoist principals using the well known characters from Winnie the Pooh.
The Tao of Pooh
I hope Mr. Dyer's book will lead his many readers to study Taoism more closely. I was exposed to Taoism through martial arts. I am a student of the Tao and it continues to be a tremendous help in my life. If you learn of the Tao, you will learn if it can be a help to you as well.
on January 27, 2008
Trust your own inner wisdom to glean what it is you are ready to learn and experience with the Tao. Go directly to it. The verbose commentary in this book was distracting and completely contrary to the essence of the Tao, much of which is its profound simplicity and depth. I didn't trust that I would have the skill to really understand it and so ordered this book for guidance. I only found it annoying in the end and have learned that meditation on this ancient wisdom is personal and it will speak to each of us where ever we are. This book seems a self-aggrandizing affront to the work of the Tao; but, of course, ultimately, the true sage would never be affronted by lack of understanding.
on March 9, 2008
Another reinvention of Wayne Dyer. He has more lives than a cat! Having been a HUGE fan of Wayne Dyer's when he wrote motivational books in the '70s and '80s, I am appalled at the direction he has taken. Frankly, he always played a little fast and loose with the truth, but I let it slide for the sake of a good story, but his latest teaching that "God" or "The Source" wrote this book is TOO much. He also claimed "automatic writing," for his book, "Wisdom of the Ages."
The bottom line is he is still a traveling guru-evangelist charging steep prices to hear him speak (how TAO is that?), thinks people can relate to "minimalist living" (in MAUI!) and continues to reinvent himself as some sort of guru of wisdom (almost all taken from others). The guru with nine lives is back with another.
My advice: Go back and read his early works and listen to his early audio series like, "How To Be A No-Limit Person" and "The Sky Is The Limit." Those were truly motivational. This latest stuff is just another reinvention that keeps him commercially viable - obviously enough to live his "sacrificial minimalist life" -- in Maui.
on August 5, 2007
I really have enjoyed everything Dr. Dyer has written, and I thoroughly enjoy the PBS series. One of my favorites was the Power of Intention, where I learned the motto for my life from Dr. Dyer: try not to be better than anyone else, but instead be better than you used to be. In the Inspiration book, he introduced us to a victim of genocide and a young boy who was born with a charitable heart and turned that gift into power. Change Your Thoughts is no less amazing than the other books. Frankly, it does reiterate lessons in life that we hear all the time, and deep down know are important. But somehow, the way Dr. Dyer writes strikes you more and you really start to think to yourself: if I change my thoughts, if I have faith and believe that things will work out a certain way, I will, in turn, become confident and I will achieve my dreams. It is a wonderful way to be, and this book helps you get there. I bought seven books for my summer reading (including mostly bestsellers) and the only two that really affected me, really opened my eyes, and really made me cry, believe and dream were "Change Your Thoughts" by Dr. Dyer and "A Beautiful Bucket of Bones" by M. Luci (a fiction book, but a very gorgeously powerful message, too). Read these books before the summer is out, and you will feel happier (and warmer) come fall and winter.
on December 10, 2007
It is said "When the student is ready, the teacher will come". Unfortunately for this book, the student came but the teacher was wandering in the wilderness. The major problem with this book is that application of the teaching is so obscure that I don't see how anyone could benefit from it. The commentary on the teaching of Lao-zi seems to lack depth and applicability. In other words, it does not meet the condition of real men and women in the real world. To better apply the Dao to your life, I would like to point to three delightful books by William Martin. He has written one for lovers, one for parents and one for the 2nd half of life. Mr. Martin says much more with fewer words.
on September 18, 2007
I've read and reaped benefit from a couple of Dyer's previous books, and because of my long interest in the Tao, thought this one would be a slam dunk for me.
Instead, it appears to me that Dyer has put almost no work into this book at all. After each verse from the Tao Te Ching, he offers Interpretation Lite--mainly a page or two of jargon-laden paragraphs that bring no real understanding of the verse at hand. His reliance on jargon instead of clear thought and practical examples indicates he was struggling himself to figure out what the verses meant.
It's not helpful, original or insightful to propel readers forward with such advice as "be the Tao!" or "Don't be judgmental of others." Where are the real-life practicalities?
The one value to the book is the verses of the Tao Te Ching itself, which, obscure as they can appear, are beacons of clarity and usefulness compared with anything Dyer has to say.