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Tao Te Ching Paperback – January 1, 1994
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"Mitchell's rendition of the "Tao Te Ching comes as close to being definitive for our time as any I can imagine. It embodies the virtues its translator credits to the Chinese original: a gemlike lucidity that is radiant with humor, grace, largeheartedness, and deep wisdom."-- Huston Smith, author of "The Religions of Man""Mitchell's great talent is to communicate with the profound simplicity utterly appropriate for this task. The obscure has been made transparent and available."-- "Common Boundary""Beautiful and accessible; the English, as 'fluid as melting ice, ' is a joy to read throughout."-- "The New Republic"
About the Author
Stephen Mitchell's many books include the bestselling Tao Te Ching, Gilgamesh, and The Second Book of the Tao, as well as The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, The Gospel According to Jesus, Bhagavad Gita, The Book of Job, and Meetings with the Archangel.
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Amazon puts reviews of ALL translations of the Tao Te Ching into this one area!
Every translation is different and this matters very much for this particular book. This book is so subtle that you can read into it whatever you want, and each translator does exactly this. Translations matter!
Here are some translations and translators that I have read:
Stephen Mitchell's Pocket Edition: ***** (5 stars!)
Concise and accurate. If you are buying just one, this would be a good one. No commentary is given so you can sit with the words and really listen to the text. Highly recommend.
Ursula K. LeGuin's translation: ***** (5 stars!)
LeGuin is such a gifted author. She brings her gentle touch and subtle insights to her translation of the Tao Te Ching. While her version is a little bit more interpreted than the Mitchell, it is a good interpretation for today's reader. It's a little more American, a little Liberal, and very good.
Charles Johnson translation: * (1 star)
This one has a tan cover with ink painting of mountains, Chinese characters on top, then the text "The TAO TE CHING - Lao Tsu's book of the way and of Righteousness"
Ugh. An older translation. Horrible. The translator brings his ideas about religion to the text and turns it into a religious doctrine, which goes directly against the spirit of the text. Let's compare the Johnson with the Mitchell:
Mitchell: "When people see some things as beautiful, other things become ugly."
Johnson: "When all men have learned the beauty of righteousness, the ugliness of sin is understood"
See the difference? The Mitchell is saying that dualistic thoughts are created as a set of opposites and imposed on the singular world. Thing's aren't beautiful or ugly in themselves. It is the viewer that creates the idea of ugliness by seeing some things as beautiful. One creates the other. The real world, the Tao of the world, has no beauty or ugliness. It is beyond the duality.
Johnson, on the other hand, says that righteousness and sin are out there and exist in themselves as actual entities, and when "men have learned" this, they will understand sin. He says that sin is real and out there to be understood or not, and suggests that Lao Tzu is telling us how to differentiate between beauty and sin. Nothing could be farther from the spirit of this text. In fact, the Christian notion of "sin" has absolutely nothing to do with this text at all, nor with Chinese philosophy generally.
Johnson brings his views of the world to this text and inserts them into the book, corrupting the masterpiece with his own agenda.
Let the educated debaters go on with their "Ten thousand things" arguing about translations and meanings. They miss the point. Get this book, make some tea, turn of the incessant rattlings in your brain and the screens in your home and relax to ancient wisdom that has influenced millions of hearts and minds for thousands of years...
One and a half hours later I had finished the book entirely, along with my coffee, and I immediately knew upon completion that I would read this book many, many more times in my life.
It was a highly profound, dare I say life changing read that dramatically impacted my perspective towards my own happiness and how I interact with others. Written as a collection of very short, almost poem-like chapters, often each occupying less than a single page, this book is a masterfully crafted guide to find real happiness and fulfillment in your life. It is a tome that empowers you, humbles you, and leads you around the pitfalls that so many humans fall into throughout their lives.
It is not a modern self help book with life-hacks, habit forming tips, or other such articulations, but rather a fundamental, deep, and moving look at what makes up a fulfilling life.
If you are someone who has discovered mindfulness, explores meditation, or ponders philosophy, then this book is, without question, a must-read.
And if you are more of a go-getter. A driven entrepreneurial type who is looking more or straightforward advice on building your business, achieving goals and finding ‘success’, then I encourage you more-so than anyone else to pick this book up.
It has helped me make difficult business decisions, cut through the unimportant details and roadblocks, optimize my time, and improve my relations with my clients and really everyone else in my life for that matter. It is a book for the true winners, who understand that karma is practical, and that compassion is the path to real success.
It is a book that I will cherish for the rest of my life, and I feel indebted to the author and translator for bringing its wisdom into the world.