The Tao Te Ching is a series of meditations on the mysterious nature of the Tao--the Way, the guiding light, the very source of all existence. According to Lao Tzu (a name meaning "the old master"), the Tao is found where we would least expect it--not in the strong but in the weak; not in speech but in silence; not in doing but in "not-doing."
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.