TAO TE CHING for Our Times

Tao Te Ching by Addiss and Lombardo, Shambhala, 2007

At this time of chaos, the world is in special need of the wisdom of Lao-tzu, as written in the Tao Te Ching. The photo is the cover of the book, Tao Te Ching, translated by Stephen Addiss and Stanley Lombardo, Shambhala, 2007.

This one of many fine translations and interpretations of the Tao Te Ching. What makes it different is its terseness. We favor brevity and simplicity, leaving it to the reader to add all the particles and grammatical care to form proper sentences. We are especially fond of this presentation by two highly qualified translators who chose to “let the text speak for itself” rather than explaining what Lao-tzu meant.

Perhaps the best way to benefit from this book is to first read other books and secondly to develop understanding through contemplative practice. Then the beauty of the simple text becomes apparent. And the power of the wisdom more striking. Let’s focus on the advice proffered in the final lines from selected verses.

Verse 81

Heaven’s Tao benefits and does not harm. The Sage’s Tao acts and does not contend.

Verse 79

Heaven’s Tao has no favorites but endures in good people.

Verse 67

Heaven aids and protects through compassion.

Verse 46

Knowing that enough is enough is always enough.

Verse 42

A violent man does not die a natural death.

Verse 41

Tao hides, no name. Yet Tao alone gets things done.

Verse 40

All things originate from being. Being originates from non-being.

Verse 37

No desire is serenity, and the world settles of itself.

Verse 25

Humans follow earth, earth follows heaven, heaven follows Tao. Tao follows its own nature.

Verse 14

Live in the ancient Tao, master the existing present, understand the source of all things. This is called the record of Tao.

Verse 13

Love the world as your self: The world can be your trust.

Verse 8

Only do not contend, and you will not go wrong.

Verse 5

Longwinded speech is exhausting. Better to stay centered.

Verse 3

[The Sage] Practices non-action and the natural order is not disrupted.

Verse 2

When no credit is taken, accomplishment endures.

Verse 1

[Tao] The gateway to all mystery.