Tao Te Ching
tao te chingThe Tao Te Ching is not only the most influential classic text of Chinese philosophy; it is without a doubt the most exciting piece of Wisdom literature I have read.

According to tradition the Tao Te Ching was written in the 6th century BC by the Sage Lao Tzu. However the text style and vocabulary would suggest it may date back in time to the late 4th or even 3rd Century BC. What are known are the varied versions of this Chinese text, the oldest version was discovered in 1993 in a tomb near the town of Guodian in Hubei province. It was written on Bamboo which was of course a common writing material in China dating prior to 300 BC.

The Tao Te Ching derives from the traditional division of the books 81 short chapters which is literally split into two sections. Chapters 1-37 open with an explanation of the enigmatic nature of the Tao which means "The Way". The second section 38-81 opens with an explanation of the workings of Te or virtue, quality or the good. The third word, namely "Ching" means classic and therefore "Tao Te Ching" can be translated as "The Classic of the way and its power"

The Tao Te Ching is of prime importance to the Taoist religion and school of Chinese philosophy with its translation made available to a world-wide audience. The original text comprised of 5,000 Chinese characters, some with multiple meanings and others in cryptic formats. Translators faced much difficulty combining western and Chinese thoughts as I have appreciated through reading them. However I have provided here an effective translation of the Tao Te Ching that is accessible for you all to use. You may be aware of the varied translations which do reveal adopted interpretations by individual translators. This is hardly surprising considering the enigmatic nature of the Tao itself. You will after all find your own meaning within the chapters I will present for you.

Most translations refer to the Sage or master as being exclusively masculine in gender but we can also recognise that a master is aware of both genders...

"Know the Masculine, but keep the feminine: and become a watershed to the world"
Confucius asked Lao Tzu to tutor him in the traditional rites with a response that expressed in the themes of the Tao Te Ching...

"Those you talk about turn to dust. All that remains is their words. When a nobleman lives in good times, he goes to court in a carriage. But when times are hard, he goes where the wind blows".

Some people say that a wise merchant hides his wealth and thus appears to be poor. Likewise if a man has great inner virtue, he appears outwardly to be a fool. There is no need therefore to be of self-importance and obsessions as they serve no purpose. You can bring to life all that is presented in front of you as they passages will be, what you choose to acquire will be only for you to recognise.

The Tao
As we know the Tao is translated as "The way" this can be interpreted as or referred to in spiritual terms or general as a path. It is however more than that it is part of the sum of the "Tao Te Ching"

"The Tao that can be described is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be spoken is not the eternal name"

The Tao Te Ching is in itself intangible and evasive and possibly beyond all concepts. It has also been regarded as the "Mother of the Universe" for it does in its own right nourishes and completes all things. It has always existed even beyond existing and non-existing, which the Tao denotes as the "Ultimate way". The "Way" is a reality, an absolute one and is just simply as it says, no interpretation, opinions or concepts. When people look at the Tao they see nothing, when listened for they hear nothing and more so the world cannot understand it as it sits far beyond what we can grasp.

Therefore we need to change our way of thinking if we are to increase our capacity for understanding and thus learn by unlearning and therefore understand all things. The Sage or Master is one of unlearned by purely emptying him or herself of all concepts and opinions and thus allowed to acquire The Tao and attaining unity with it. The Master is no longer governed by whims and desires of the ego...

Freed from desire, you can see the hidden mystery. By having desire, you can only see what is visibly real".
The Tao Te Ching was written 2,500 years ago and in many respects the world we exist in is very different now. This is down to science, manufacturing, technology and communications within our economic climate. Yet in others the world is the same as it ever was. We are always striving for power to control and fighting wars that repeat themselves over and over. The power status is based on ego and the acquisition of wealth and possessions. Yet here we have a simple timeless wisdom that lies at the heart of the Tao Te Ching:

"Embrace simplicity, Put others first. Desire Little..."

Without opening your door, you can know the whole world. Without looking out of your window, you can understand the way of the Tao...
(John Baldock)

Join me in the teachings of Lao Tzu
Love & Light