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Tao te Ching Audible – Unabridged

4.6 out of 5 stars 149 customer reviews

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Format: Paperback
Perhaps we need different editions of the Tao Te Ching for different moods. When we are in a more analytic and outward-directed mood we will turn to an edition such as that, perhaps, of Ellen M. Chen, an edition with a substantial and stimulating introduction and with very full and detailed commentaries.
When in a more receptive and intuitive mood, however, a mood in which the busy-ness of the rational intellect is stilled and the deeper levels of mind are open to more subtle influences, our needs become different. At such times we will perhaps benefit more from a stripped-down version of the Tao Te Ching, one that allows the text to advance directly and make contact with our sensibility without the distractions of notes and commentaries and suchlike.
Although it was first published in 1973, the fact that the edition of Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English has never been out-of-print suggests that it is an edition that has been working for many people, one that satisfies perfectly one side of our nature, the gentler and more receptive and aesthetic side, perhaps the wiser side.
Each Chapter of the Tao Te Ching is given on two large quarto-sized pages which hold the English translation, the brushed Chinese text, and the black-and-white photographs. The white pages also hold large areas of blank space, an 'Emptiness' or 'Openness' in which, as others have noted, the black texts and pictures are allowed room in which to breathe and be themselves.
The English translation is simple, pure, spare. Here is a brief example from Chapter 48, with my slash marks indicating line breaks in the original:
"In the pursuit of learning, every day something is acquired. / In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped. // Less and less is done / Until non-action is achieved.
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Format: Paperback
It is hardly difficult to understand the enduring quality of the Tao Te Ching. Written by Lao Tsu in the sixth century BC is a simple, quiet book that reflects upon our true nature and our behavior. Broken up into 81 'chapters' or short poems, it comprises a mere 5,000 words. Every other sentence is a memorable quote, and one can read it in an hour and study it for a lifetime.
What I do find remarkable is the durability of this particular edition. My copy is ancient, dating back to my college days. At frequent intervals it seems to come to hand and I will peruse it again and enjoy the clarity of this translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English. They have carefully chosen a simple, accessible style which I feel completely captures the nature of the Tao. "What is a good man? A teacher of a bad man.
What is a bad man? A good man's charge."
Accompanying the text are many fine examples of Gia-Fu Feng's calligraphy and Jane English's photographs. While I like Chinese calligraphy, I lack the understanding to make any judgement. I can only report that it shows flow and grace, and works perfectly with English's photographs. These latter capture, most often with natural images, a play of contrast which often is as calligraphic as the accompanying handwriting. Thus, the book itself is a careful balance between content and form.
At the end of the day, or in an otherwise tense moment, this volume has often been the source of the tiny bit of sanity that makes the next day possible. There is much to meditate on here and this edition is a precious resource for the seeking mind.
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Format: Paperback
"The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao."
So begins this version of the Tao Te Ching. This book provides an experience of the Tao like few others. First, there is the blank page. Lots of white space. The absence, the void.
"The Tao is an empty vessel; it is used, but never filled."
"Profit comes from what is there, / Usefulness from what is not there."
Emptiness is the vessel which contains the words and images of this experience. Each chapter is written in both English and Chinese. I don't even pretend read Chinese, but the characters evoke a sense of something beyond ...
"The form of the formless / the image of the imageless / it is called indefinable and beyond imagination."
The English translation reads smoothly. This is not the awkward prose frequently stumbled over when a scholar attempts to reproduce the ambiguities of the original in a foreign tongue. These words play smoothly together. The text does
"not tinkle like jade / or clatter like stone chimes."
The final element in this alchemy is the photographs:
"Less and less is done / until non-action is achieved. / When nothing is done, nothing is left undone."
Absent in this volume are the reams of footnotes which clutter most Taos I've read. Absent, too, are chapters on historical background and the relationship to Confucianism. If you seek these things, seek elsewhere.
For me, this book has opened a way to the Tao.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read a different version of the Tao Te Ching before deciding to buy. I wasn't enthralled by the other version, and I knew that the lessons in the Tao Te Ching were inspiring.
They say you can't judge a book by it's cover, but with this one, that may not be the case. The entire book is just like the cover: simple and beautiful. As Tao should be represented.
The book itself is about the size of a magazine and the cover will bend or crease easily if handled roughly. The pages, while nearly as thick as the cover, should shrug off abuse easily... which is why I've opted to leave this one on the coffee table every day.
What I found very nice (as another reviewer mentioned) is the fact that you see the lessons in English and in Chinese characters on the facing page. Equally as pleasing: beautiful black and white photos adorn every page, blending easily with the verse.
I cannot comment on the lessons contained in the book, as each individual will take what they choose from it. I would venture to guess that if you're bothering to read this review, you would find more than two of the epiphanies contained in the book useful.
While this edition may not wear as well as a hardbound copy would, it is definately worth its price, and a piece of your time.
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