The bestselling, widely acclaimed translation from Stephen Mitchell
"Mitchell's rendition of the Tao Te Ching comes as close to being definitive for our time as any I can imagine. It embodies the virtues its translator credits to the Chinese original: a gemlike lucidity that is radiant with humor, grace, largeheartedness, and deep wisdom." — Huston Smith, author of The Religions of Man
In eighty-one brief chapters, Lao-tzu's Tao Te Ching, or Book of the Way, provides advice that imparts balance and perspective, a serene and generous spirit, and teaches us how to work for the good with the effortless skill that comes from being in accord with the Tao—the basic principle of the universe.
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.
It is beautiful but flawed
I enjoyed the audio version very much. Due to the interpreter’s knowledge of Chinese language and culture, or the lack of them, some chapters are so beautifully translated that they not only sound like music but also deepen my understanding of this great book (e.g. Chapter 11), some, though quite diverted from the original meaning (e.g. Chapter 25 and Chapter 36), are still wise in themselves, and the others, (e.g. Chapter 50), are completely misunderstood and therefore the opposite to what Laotzu tries to teach... The translator is great and sincere in sharing his feelings and experience of reading this script, but, alas, his experience is biased and incomplete in many aspects...
The best interpretation of the Tao Te Ching
Stephen Mitchell has, in my opinion, the most eloquent, reliable, and consistent interpretation of the Tao Te Ching! I've been reading and studying this great text since 1996, and have read over 30 interpretations. I continue to return to the Mitchell translation. However, reading any translation of this great body of work will improve your life substantially. Therefore, this is the best translation of one of the best books ever written.
A very thoughtful translation and a very engaging book. I highly recommend it.