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How ridiculous! Other people are excited, as though they were at a parade. I alone don't care, I alone am expressionless, like an infant before it can smile. Other people have what they need; I alone possess nothing.

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I alone drift about, like someone without a home. I am like an idiot, my mind is so empty. Other people are bright; I alone am dark. Other people are sharp; I alone am dull. Other people have purpose; I alone don't know. I drift like a wave on the ocean, I blow as aimless as the wind.

I am different from ordinary people. I drink from the Great Mother's breasts. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve. Supple, breathing gently, you become reborn. Clearing your vision, you become clear. Nurturing your beloved, you become impartial. Opening your heart, you become accepted. Accepting the World, you embrace Tao. Bearing and nurturing, Creating but not owning, Giving without demanding, Controlling without authority, This is love. This is the primal identity. When people see some things as good, other things become bad.

Have the patience to wait! Be still and allow the mud to settle. Wise men don't need to prove their point; men who need to prove their point aren't wise. The Master has no possessions. The more he does for others, the happier he is. The more he gives to others, the wealthier he is.

When we don't see the self as self, what do we have to fear? Hope is as hollow as fear. Yet your intellect will never grasp them, and if you try to practice them,you'll fail. I highly recommend it. Concatenated thoughts. Because he does not claim merit, His merit does not go away. It consists of 81 short chapters written in poetic form which, using a pithy language brimming with evocative and, at times, repetitive contradicti Concatenated thoughts.

It consists of 81 short chapters written in poetic form which, using a pithy language brimming with evocative and, at times, repetitive contradictions, provide guidance on how humanity may have a harmonious relationship with nature, with the Tao. After reading chapter 11 by the latter, the merits of each work became particularly noticeable. Chen's translation is an accurate marvel. It's the kind of translation I like; literal as possible. I don't want only the translator's interpretation, I want to know the precise words that went through the author's mind.

I've made peace with everything that gets lost in translation, so at least give me surgical precision. On the opposite side stands Mitchell with another approach: divesting the verses of all metaphor, he focuses on the meaning, the thoughts Lao Tzu intended to convey. In that sense, it's a remarkable work; a detailed examination of all the elements that constitute this treatise.

While keeping a small amount of literality, it expresses a similar interpretation. If I have to choose, I prefer Chen's academic translation with its enriching commentary over Mitchell's version with its still lyrical directness. Even though she generally refers to the sage as a man, whereas Mitchell states that since we are all, potentially, the Master since the Master is, essentially, us , I felt it would be untrue to present a male archetype, as other versions have, ironically, done.

Ironically, because of all the great world religions the teaching of Lao tzu is by far the most female. As for my experience with this book, I should revisit it in a few years The dynamics between opposites that say and don't say, that affirm and deny, that teach without speaking and act without doing; it all starts to get a tad annoying after a while.

I wasn't able to identify with some notions, naturally; my skeptical disposition began to take control rather soon. However, The Tao Te Ching includes several useful concepts to improve our fleeting stay in this world. Moreover, many of those impressions are addressed to politicians. In that regard, this book should be required reading for every single one of them. I close this 'review' with some chapters according to the views of each translator.

General comment The overall message of this chapter, just as in preceding and subsequent chapters, is that the unconscious state of nature is superior to the conscious state of virtue. Consciousness marks a lack. We are not aware of and do not pursue something until we have already become separated from it.

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Such affairs have a way of returning huan : Where armies are stationed, Briars and thorns grow, After great campaigns, Bad years are sure to follow. The good person is resolute lwo only, But dares not kan take the path of the strong ch 'iang. Be resolute kuo yet do not boast ching , Be resolute yet do not show off fa , Be resolute yet do not be haughty, Be resolute because you have no choice, Be resolute yet do not overpower ch 'iang.

When things are full grown, they age. This is called not following Tao. Not following Tao they perish early. General comment While the preceding chapter serves as the basis of a theology of nature, this chapter provides the rationale for a theology of peace. It carries the theme of non-action or non-domination in the preceding chapter to international relations. If humans are not supposed to dominate other creatures, neither should they dominate fellow humans.

This chapter is a critique of military power ch 'iang specifically against wars, which are instruments of death. Therefore they can be kings of the hundred valleys. Thus if you desire to be above the people, Your words must reach down hsia to them. If you desire to lead the people, Your person shen, body must be behind them.

Thus the sage is above, Yet the people do not feel his weight. He stays in front, Yet the people do not suffer any harm. Thus all gladly praise him untiringly pu yen. Because he does not contend with any, Therefore no one under heaven can contend with him. General comment This chapter on the relationship between the ruler and the people is directly connected with chapter 61, which is on the relationship among states.

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The key concept is again hsia, low or downward flowing. In domestic affairs as well as in international relations, the ruler is to imitate water by reaching downward to the people, assisting in their own self-unfolding without imposing himself on them. View all 14 comments. There are many translations of the Taoteching, nearly every one of which is probably worth reading, but this is my favorite version.

But anyway The fullness is there in potential, unspent. I like this. The commentaries that follow each poem or entry are fascinating and just scratch the surface of what I understand is a vast accumulation of scholarship on this text. The commentaries are often wildly contradictory and tangential, obsessive to an anal nth degree, but also at times wise in their own right. These commentaries have been written by official scholars, by mendicant monks, and even one or two extreme eccentrics living on the fringes of society unaffiliated with any institution.

At the back of the book are short biographies of each commentator, which is fascinating reading in itself. It all adds up to evidence that this is a living book, with enough clear and direct meaning to be perpetually valid, and enough obscurity to be endlessly pondered. The translator is an American who goes by the name Red Pine. View all 11 comments. I'm always reading this little book containing the essence of wisdom. For years I've read it again and again, one chapter every morning.

View all 8 comments. She has but doesn't possess, acts but doesn't expect. It consists of 81 short chapters written in poetic form which, using a pithy language brimming with evocative and, at times, repetitive contradictions, provide guidance on how humanity may have a harm Concatenated thoughts.

It's the kind of translation I like; as literal as possible. This goodness is as insecure as Job's and can be as self-satisfied as Little Jack Horner's. Whereas a good father has no intention of being good; he just acts naturally. For every force there is a counter force. Violence, even well intentioned, always rebounds upon oneself. The Master does his job and then stops. He understands that the universe is forever out of control, and trying to dominate events goes against the current of the Tao.

Because he accepts himself, the whole world accepts him. Notes: doesn't try to force issues : He lets the issues resolve themselves. Humility gives it its power. If you want to govern the people, you must place yourself below them. If you want to lead the people, you must learn how to follow them. The Master is above the people, and no one feels oppressed.

She goes ahead of the people, and no one feels manipulated. The whole world is grateful to her. Because she competes with no one, no one can compete with her. Notes: The Master is above the people : Not that she feels superior, but that, looking from a higher vantage point, she can see more. The whole world is grateful to her : Even those who think they are ungrateful.

This version irritates me a lot, largely because of Stephen Mitchell's arrogance in writing it I'll go into that in a bit. This is not a translation which Mitchell was at least gracious enough to make clear in the back of the book ; it's a translation of various translations. The problem with this is that a translation of a translation turns out the same way that a copy of a copy does: while some of the original words and phrases are identifiable, there's a lot that's lost or skewed. For examp This version irritates me a lot, largely because of Stephen Mitchell's arrogance in writing it I'll go into that in a bit.

For example, here is a good translation of the first line of Ch. Lau: "Not to honor men of worth will keep the people from contention. It does not mean "powerless. While it doesn't damage the understanding of someone already familiar with Taoism and its literature, it does mislead those new to Taoism who seek an authentic introductory text to understand the philosophy. As I mentioned above, what really irritates me is Mitchell's arrogance regarding his version of the text versus the original Chinese versions and the translations that more closely adhere to their meaning.

In the question-and-answer section located in the back of the book, the querent says: "But it's one thing to translate Rilke and the Book of Job when you read German and Hebrew; it's quite another to translate books like the Tao Te Ching, the Bhagavad Gita, or Gilgamesh without any knowledge of the original languages.

Of course, I wouldn't dare work with a text that I didn't feel deeply connected to--I used to speak of my 'umbilical connection' to Lao-tzu. But isn't the best translation one that is authentic on multiple levels, emotionally and literally? However, if I had to choose, I'd rather read a translation that is accurate and discover the emotional resonance on my own. They share some similar values and qualities, but they are distinct. Mitchell continues: "There was also the excitement of the aesthetic challenge.

Some calculated that by there were translations of the Tao Te Ching into English alone. I had read six or seven of them, and although I loved the content, the language was mediocre at best: not much poetry in it, not much sparkle. This may sound arrogant too, and irrational. How can you fall in love with a book whose actual words bore you? But that's what happened. It's completely non-Taoist. Instead, he decided that he'd rather cut entire paragraphs, rearrange the remaining words, and even alter the meaning to better suit his aesthetic values.

His disregard for accuracy and his preference for his concept of beauty over truth not only shows a complete lack of respect for the text, the tradition and its culture of origin; it's also just not scholarly. Another interesting admission made by Mitchell is that he spent only four months writing this version. So, obviously, I was getting more focused, or more efficient The vast difference in time spent translating Job and rewriting the Tao Te Ching instead tells me that he worked very hard to faithfully render the former and just cobbled together the latter.

Mitchell actually reads and understands Hebrew, so it's likely that he was aware of the nuances of the language and therefore understood the importance of accurately rendering the text into English. Mitchell doesn't read any Chinese. If the language is incomprehensible to him, how can he possibly grasp the nuances of the characters in order to accurately translate them for others? This isn't to say that his version is completely wrong. Many sections are fairly accurate like the line in Ch.

But there are also many places in his text that are inaccurate to the point of misconstruing the core concepts of the belief system. So if you're new to Taoism and are looking for a translation that accurately communicates Taoist beliefs and sensibilities, I suggest that you go somewhere else. There are many other translations that more accurately render the Tao Te Ching in English.

Each has its own particular "flavor" and may contain slightly different words or rhythms, but most aim to faithfully present an accurate translation of the text that, while not serving every culture's aesthetic requirements, is very beautiful in its own way and has a lot of wisdom to offer, regardless of cultural and generational differences in taste. The site provides not only several different translations, but also the original Wang Bi text with translations of each character. If, however, you're already familiar with the Tao Te Ching and other Taoist literature, Mitchell's book at least serves as a good example of Taoism's effect on contemporary American culture.

View all 28 comments. It's somewhat uncertain when it was written circa 4th-3rd century BC , the author's life details are largely invented, and the existence of the author is not quite certain either Lao Tzu is just his title, and also it's not known if the text is by one author, or a group of authors worked over some years. It was first translated in the late s, and the oldes existin review after rereading: This book's contents and history have both a sense of vagueness, but not in a bad way, in my opinion.

It was first translated in the late s, and the oldes existing copy is from circa BC. It's a bit hard to categorise: ethics? But really, in my view any of those would do. In a way it felt a bit like Dhammapada, which I've read earlier, in that even if you're not interested in the religion it's part of, it will still appeal, and is a pretty easy a read. I read it quite quickly now. Taoism is clearly put as an opposite way of thinking against Confucianism - which shows in some parts of this text - the latter being based on duties to the community and the family, but somewhat rigidly black and white at its hardest.

Taoism is in its end less rigid, putting weight on the coexistence of the opposites, reverence of nature, flexibility and not being too controlling. The Tao is a force in the world, not completely graspable or something one can give a finite meaning, but which balances our world. It is gentleness, avoiding conflict of grasping, seeking peacefulness, simplicity, detachment and humility. Making the point without engaging in rhetoric and arguments. The book's message is simple, the prose spare with plenty of natural imagery. The wisdom the Tao of the book is feminine, yin in balance with the yang while in Confucianism the yang seems sometimes bit heavily-leaned on.

The message seems simple, yet is deep. Quite a few sentences bounced out of the text as familiar, things I've seen quoted. Reading and rereading each page will most certainly happen for me in the future. The whole thing reads just like a beautiful ancient Chinese nature painting Such is this book. View all 4 comments. This was immensely interesting to read, though I found myself somewhat aggravated by the passivism that ran through the writing. It's almost like a poetical treatise on humility, but what of ambition and a drive to make the world a better place? Should we all accept our station in life and never aim to improve?

I think not. It accepts things as they are however they are and cannot conceive of a better future. Everything should stay the same, and exist within the natural order of things. But ho This was immensely interesting to read, though I found myself somewhat aggravated by the passivism that ran through the writing.

But how do we define the natural? VI The Spirit of the valley never dies This is called the mysterious female. The gateway of the mysterious female Is called the route of heaven on earth. Dimly visible, it seems as if it were there, Yet use will never drain it. The poem speaks of mother nature as replenishing and everlasting; she will always endure and is the gateway to heaven on earth, to our own nirvana.

We can never completely spend her. The metaphor is for the path as Taoism and nature are one and the same here. For the speaker, Taoism or the way is the most natural of things we can partake in. We will also never drain the benefits of it and they will also last perpetually. And these ideas for me felt strong and real, but the writing also muses over empire.

The Empire is a sacred vessel and nothing should be done to it. Whoever does anything to it will ruin it; whoever lays hold of it will lose it. Hence some things lead and some follow; Some breath gently and some breathe hard; Some are strong and some are weak; Some destroy and some are destroyed. Therefore the sage avoids excess, extravagance and arrogance. I take so much issue with this quote. In what way can we ever refer to an Empire as natural?

Empire's are always built with the blood of someone else. The quote also shows how people are all different, though it concludes that this is simply the way of things. A weak person should not try to make himself strong. Such a thing is an excess. We should simply stay humble and never challenge the norms of an Empire. And that's when I stopped listening to what the book had to say. As an historical piece it's interesting to study, but I take absolutely no stock in the words.

Sep 04, Farhan Khalid rated it really liked it. To understand the small is called clarity Knowing how to yield is called strength Those who know do not talk Those who talk do not know Act by not acting Do by not doing A journey of thousand miles starts with a single footstep If you rush into action, you will fail If you hold on too tight, you will lose your grip Compassion is the protector of Heaven's salvation View 1 comment. The simplicity of Torode's translation makes it my favorite so far and lines up with the Taoist philosophy of simplicity.

I may consider other works translated by Torode. He has some interesting works out there, such as "The Song of Solomon. I love this book of philosophy. It gives great common sense 4. It gives great common sense and helps pave new thought patterns not taught in American culture, paths that lead to peace and sanity. My favorite book of philosophy. Shows a path of peace, contentment and subtle, quiet, managable power.

The reason why heaven and earth are able to endure and continue this long is because they do not live of, or for, themselves. This is how they are able to continue and endure. The quote has reminded me of the power of humility, and the deceptive and dichotomous nature of that power. Humility clothes itself in rags of weakness and frailty but draws superhuman strength, and the Tao Te Ching calls this an empty vessel being filled with another power.

I admire this amazing and deeply profound piece of religious literature. The philosophy coincides with my own faith. The book teaches, as already mentioned, the power of humility. It teaches the value of things considered meaningless, such as empty space.

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We build houses, form rooms with four walls, but the basis of this structure lies upon the importance of the empty space. Empty space provides room to live, to breathe, to walk, to make love, to work. The power and mechanics of a wheel depend on the empty space. Thus, we consider worthless things, abased things, as meaningless. We say we live life to the fullest when we have what we want, and when we lose it all, we have no meaning, no purpose, no life.

The book attempts to explain this. The Yin-Yang. The point of the argument concludes with something underlying the whole of existence. One constant, the Tao. I like to think of this, in my personal paradigm of faith, as God. The Tao exists as the fundamental, underlying essence of the universe. Under all these events we also have a soul, eternal and unchanging in nature. The book changed my perspective. As I experience grief, the thoughts come: life has no purpose now. I see a Father who loves me, and plays baseball with me, fishes with me.

The high, the low. The wave. Up, down, up, down. I see a beautiful lady with sea-blue eyes lying on my chest of happiness. See it all. See life. See the beauty, the lesson. See the tenderness of a mother deer licking her baby. See the lion chasing and biting the bleeding neck of her prey. This is life. The wonder, the blessing. We live. We experience. The experiences only flow through a constant medium, us. I believe we exist in a timeless place called soul, and this place holds it all, the good and bad, in memories.

I believe this God has a face and He wants to be seen. The author points out the paradox of softness. He refers to women as feminine, or weak, but then turns to say weakness stands stronger than strength, because strength depends on the weakness, as the walls depend on the space for meaning. He says maturity is the end, the death, and Tao has no place with this. When we master something, it ends. A full-grown tree has only to be full-grown, and eventually wither. A new tree has begun to grow, and has a softness, and in this potential to grow, most of life abounds, because the process has just begun.

My end becomes a new beginning, always, so long as air feeds oxygen into my lungs and body. View all 7 comments. This has got to be one of the most perennially beguiling, elliptical things ever written. And it seems all the more mysterious to me because so much of it is couched as this extremely practical, almost Machiavellian political advice. It sort of reminds me of Heidegger, with those really crazy, c This has got to be one of the most perennially beguiling, elliptical things ever written.

It sort of reminds me of Heidegger, with those really crazy, cyclical concept definitions. Or certain lines from modest mouse songs. Jan 13, Onaiza Khan rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites , non-fiction , philosophy. This is just mindblowing. This version of the Dao De Jing, translated by Richard John Lynn, is highly recommended to those who are not looking for the touchy feely Laozi. Rather it is a translation for those interested in ancient Chinese thought. A wonderful translation.

The Dao De Jing was probably written, by author or authors unknown, in the fourth century B. This version includes an interpretation of the text written by Wang Bi C. Both Wang Bi and the translator or this edition, Richard John Lynn, have maintained the original intent of the Dao De Jing in not bringing in any mystical or religious concepts, which by Wang Bi's time were part of the popular view of Daoism.

In reading this version, I perceive more clearly than in most versions three strands of thought. I acknowledge that this thing may be sliced in many other ways. See for example Michael Lafarge's quite good translation. The second strand is a guide to self cultivation, how to become a sage, and the third is an articulation of the basis for the other strands and everything else, 'the myriad of things' , the 'Tao' the nature of the universe.

These strands are not kept discrete but are, rather, presented as a synthesis. As noted above, both Wang Bi and Lynn have avoided mystical language with the result that many of the terms with which readers of other translations are familiar are translated differently. Thus: "wuwei" usually translated as "no action" is here presented as "no conscious effort". The effect of this is important in that "no action" suggests that the agent accomplishes ends by doing nothing, a mystical concept which captures the modern reader's imagination.

The words "no conscious effort" suggests more of a lack of purpose. The ruler acts but not to his own ends but rather in accordance with the unfolding nature of the universe, the Tao. To act out of the Tao is to act out of nothingness, as opposed to acting out of the myriad of things which will mislead and lead to disaster. Wang Bi begins his introduction to the work with "The way things come into existence and efficacy comes about is that things arise from the formless and efficacy emanates from the nameless.

The formless and the nameless [Dao] is the progenitor of the myriad of things. I tend to view this as I do the concept of the "big bang' in popular physics. There is nothing there and then there is an explosion out of which all that exists emanates. The "Dao" is the ever expanding universe and everything that exists and happens within it. This last bit is totally my own fabrication to put the concept into terms which I can grasp.

It works for me for now. Thus, the Dao is conceived of as coming out of nothing and as ever changing.