Lao-tzu's Tao Te Ching, or Book of the Way, is the classic manual on the art of living and one of the wonders of the world. In eighty-one brief chapters, the Tao Te Ching llods at the basic predicatment of being alive and gives advice that imparts balance and perspective, a serene and generous spirit. This book is about wisdom in action. It teaches how wo work for the good with the efforless skill that comes from being in accord with the Tao (the basic principle of the universe) and applies equally to good government and sexual love, to childrearing, business, and ecology.
The Tao Te Ching is the most widely traslated book in world literature, after the Bible. Yet the gemlike lucidity of the original has eluded most previous translations, and they have obscured some of its central ideas. Now the Tao Te ching has been rendered into English by the eminent scholar and traslator Stephen Mitchell. Mr. Mitchell's Dropping Ashes on the Buddha is a modern Zen classic, and his translations of Rilke and of the Book of Job have already been called definitive for our time.
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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.
I have read no other translation but Mitchell’s and I believe this one to be divinely inspired. Like all spiritual texts, it must be treated as a living document - entrusted with all the wisdom of the sages previous and future, for it is also timeless, and only a teacher who has devoted years to a contemplative way of living will have the intelligence and heart necessary to broaden its appeal and clarify it’s call for individuals to honor that “indivisibility” and look inside themselves to “change the[ir] world”.