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Customer Review

on March 21, 2001
"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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