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The original mindfulness book, in a landmark new translation by the award-winning translator of the I Ching and The Art of War
The most translated book in the world after the Bible, the Tao Te Ching, or “Book of the Tao,” is a guide to cultivating a life of peace, serenity, and compassion. Through aphorisms and parable, it leads readers toward the Tao, or the “Way”: harmony with the life force of the universe. Traditionally attributed to Lao-tzu, a Chinese philosopher thought to have been a contemporary of Confucius, it is the essential text of Taoism, one of the three major religions of ancient China. As one of the world’s great works of wisdom literature, it still has much to teach us today, offering a practical model based on modesty and self-restraint for living a balanced existence and for opening your mind, freeing your thoughts, and attaining greater self-awareness. With its emphasis on calm, simplicity, purity, and non-action, it provides a time-tested refuge from the busyness of modern life.
This new translation seeks to understand the Tao Te Ching as a guide to everyday living and encourages a slow, meditative reading experience. The Tao Te Ching’s eighty-one brief chapters are accompanied by illuminating commentary, interpretation, poems, and testimonials by the likes of Margaret Mead, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. Specially commissioned calligraphy for more than two hundred Chinese characters illustrates the book’s essential themes.
Lao Tzu's classic Chinese text from the sixth century BCE has much to teach us today. Lao Tzu meditates on breath, enjoining the reader to practice breathing like a baby; reflects on hsu, or emptiness; juxtaposes heaven and earth; and soberly reminds readers of their mortality. People should "cling to no treasures," but rather devote themselves to a pure disinterestedness, becoming most truly themselves when they achieve selflessness. Hamill has rendered the Tao Te Ching afresh; his translation from the Chinese is achingly poetic. To wit, this lovely meditation: "It's best to be like water, nurturing the ten thousand things without competing, flowing into places people scorn." And yet Hamill does not seek to drain the text of its mystery. The Tao-literally, "the way"-resists being nailed down or put in a box and mastered. Hamill's poetry is complemented by Kazuaki Tanahashi's dramatic calligraphy, with 18 original representations of words or characters. Though unlikely to displace Stephen Mitchell's popular rendering of the Tao, this volume will delight spiritual seekers and devotees of Taoism, while also making a lovely gift.