The Tao Te Ching (the core Taoist scripture) invites us to open our mind to the underlying mystery and simplicity we lose sight of in daily life. It doesn’t tell us what to do or think, but rather stimulates us to think and reflect. If you are new to Taoist thought, start with the question, what is Taoist thought? Then, continue on to Understanding the Tao Te Ching.
In translating the Tao Te Ching, the translation is, in truth, also a commentary. By that I mean the choice and interpretation of both words and phrases required in translating anything (but especially this) is in itself a primary form of commentary. Not content to leave it there, I have included commentary that relates each chapter to various aspects of life. Used together, all this should help understanding. (See also, The Tao Te Ching: Literal Chinese vs. Translations.)
A print-on-demand copy of this site’s Word for Word Translation is available. Click Word for Word for more information.
I began studying D.C. Lau’s translation in 1964, and Chinese in 1967. I was commenting on D.C. Lau’s translation here until I finished my translation in 2012. From then on we’ve been using Word for Word.
We explore one chapter here on the first Sunday of every month. I post that chapter here along with any corrections and my reflections as needed.
The Purpose of the Commentaries
The commentaries here are not intended to explain what the Tao Te Ching ‘truly’ says. Rather, the commentary portrays the Tao Te Ching as seen though ‘my’ and ‘your’ mind. This offers us a conversation, of sorts—an interaction between ‘my’ understanding or puzzlement and ‘your’ understanding or puzzlement. We find this back and forth interpretive sharing very helpful in getting to see more of the whole elephant.
This is taken from James Legge’s translation The Writings of Chuang Tzu, found in volumes thirty nine and forty of the Sacred Books of the East series, published by Oxford University Press in 1891. It was part of a much larger work published by Legge under the title The Chinese Classics, which rendered into English seven of the nine classics of Chinese literature. Legge also translate the other Taoist classic, the Tao Te Ching. (Note: I This content is from Stephen Mcintyre site: http://nothingistic.org/library/chuangtzu/index.html. Go there to see the other books in the series.)