Daodejing

  • Table of contents
  • Related Entries
  • References
    • Word-by-word English translation from which I constructed my translation — and which you could use in the same way
    • Website I also used, with Chinese text and word-by-word English dictionary look-up
    • Translations with chapter-by-chapter comments
    • Other translations I consult

This page has links to the chapters of my attempt to translate and comment on the Daodejing (Tao Te Ching), or The Classic about Ways and Instances, by Laozi (or Lao Tsu, Lao Tze, Lao Tzu, Lao Tse, Laotse).

I also plan posts discussing other early Taoist writings, and they’ll be listed here.

My point of view, different from most published translators, is explained in the Introduction.  I am not a scholar and do not read Chinese; I do write English and I’m interested in Laozi.

I’m aware that this translation breaks the rules.  I use simple language, and avoid anything “elevated.” In my comments I use simple, personal illustrations.  The idea is to make Laozi direct and practical, as I imagine he intended to be.  I see the Daodejing not as a key to some esoteric, other-worldly, special universe but as the reflections an intelligent man gave to his own actual life and to what he saw around him: he thought these things because he needed them.  It seems a record of the journey he made; and he seems to hope most sincerely that we’ll find some of his record applicable to our own journey — that we’ll need whatever we can read from it as badly as he did.

I may have gone overboard in my attempt to make Daodejing everyday.  If so, then maybe that’s a needed, and useful, correction.  I’m not attempting to have the final, definitive say — merely to contribute to a discussion I imagine will continue and evolve.

Please expect the chapters to be revised after posting.

Table of Contents

Daodejing —
The Classic about Ways and Instances

Related Entries in This Blog

Poems especially relevant to Taoism

References

Note: The entries here are linked, via the ISBN number, to Wikipedia’s Book Sources.  If you scroll down the Wikipedia page you can find multiple, worldwide sources from which to buy new or used books, to trade them with other readers, or to check them out of libraries.

Word-by-word English translation of Daodejing from which I constructed my translation — and which you could use in the same way

Star, Jonathan. Tao Te Ching Star, Jonathan. Tao Te Ching. New York: Jeremy P Tarcher/Putnam, 2001. ISBN 1-58542-099-9.

Website I also used, with Chinese text of Tao Te Ching and word-by-word English dictionary look-up

Wengu — Chinese Classics and Poems Wengu — Chinese Classics and Poems. Select the link at the top for a chapter number, then hover mouse over any Chinese word for a basic definition — or click for a more extended one. Read from top to bottom, right to left.

Translations with chapter-by-chapter comments on Tao Te Ching

Ames, Roger and David Hall. Dao De Jing: “Making this Life Significant.” Ames, Roger and David Hall. Dao De Jing: “Making this Life Significant.” New York: Ballantine Books, 2003. ISBN 0-345-44419-1. Extensive introduction, commentary, glossary of key terms, and thematic index.

Chen, Ellen M. The Tao Te Ching. Chen, Ellen M. The Tao Te Ching. New York: Paragon House Publishers, 1989. ISBN 1-55778-083-8. Includes comments by the translator, with many quotations from earlier writers.

Lin Yutang. The Wisdom of Laotse. New York: The Modern Library, 1948. Lin Yutang. The Wisdom of Laotse. New York: The Modern Library, 1948. (Too early for ISBN; here is a link for US Library of Congress.) Each chapter has appropriate quotations from Chuangtse. This is the book whose first chapter got me started, as a teenager, in my life-long love of Tao Te Ching.

Pine, Red. Lao-Tzu’s Taoteching. San Francisco: Mercury House, 2001. Pine, Red. Lao-Tzu’s Taoteching. San Francisco: Mercury House, 2001. ISBN 1-56279-085-4. Includes numerous comments from classical Chinese authors.

Waley, Arthur. The Way and Its Power: Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching and Its Place in Chinese Thought. Waley, Arthur. The Way and Its Power: Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching and Its Place in Chinese Thought. New York: Grove Press, 1958. ISBN 0-8021-5085-3.

Other translations of Tao Te Ching I consult

Feng, Gia-Fu and Jane English. Tao Te Ching. New York: Vintage Books, 1972. ISBN 0-394-71833-X. Feng, Gia-Fu and Jane English. Tao Te Ching. New York: Vintage Books, 1972. ISBN 0-394-71833-X.

Henricks, Robert. Lao Tzu: Te-Tao Ching - a New Translation Based on the Recently Discovered Ma-Wang-Tui Texts. New York: Ballantine Books, 1992. ISBN 0-345-37099-6. Henricks, Robert. Lao Tzu: Te-Tao Ching – a New Translation Based on the Recently Discovered Ma-Wang-Tui Texts. New York: Ballantine Books, 1992. ISBN 0-345-37099-6.

Hinton, David. Tao Te Ching. New York: Counterpoint Press, 2002. ISBN 1-58243-182-5. Hinton, David. Tao Te Ching. New York: Counterpoint Press, 2002. ISBN 1-58243-182-5.

Lau, D.C. Tao Te Ching. Harmondsworth Eng.: Penguin, 2003. ISBN 0-140-44131-X. Lau, D.C. Tao Te Ching. Harmondsworth Eng.: Penguin, 2003. ISBN 0-140-44131-X.

Mair, Victor. Tao Te Ching. New York: Bantam Books, 1990. ISBN 0-553-34935-X. Mair, Victor. Tao Te Ching. New York: Bantam Books, 1990. ISBN 0-553-34935-X.

painted silk from Han Dynasty Tombs at Mawangdui, Changsha, Hunan Province (a few hundred years after Lao Tzu)

Painted silk from Han Dynasty Tombs at Mawangdui, Changsha, Hunan Province (a few hundred years after Lao Tzu)

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3 Responses to Daodejing

  1. Baekho says:

    Although I tend to be a little leery of translations done by non-Chinese speakers (the Stephen Mitchell version is an absolute travesty, IMHO), I find yours to be quite compelling and naturally flowing—both very good signs! :)

    As I mentioned elsewhere, I’m also very curious about the choice of “instance” for “de”.

  2. wanderer77 says:

    great page of links

    cheers friend

  3. Dear William Coleman,

    One day i’m living a saintly life and the other a beastly one. Sometimes I crave for lust. I hope Lao Tzu can inspire me.

    Anything u could help me?

    Best regards,

    gunalan appalasamy, kuala lumpur, malaysia

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