Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It's All Real - the World According to the Tao Te Ching

I recently published my English version of the Chinese classic Tao Te Ching. As an appetizer, here's the start of the first chapter of the book. This is where Lao Tzu, the legendary writer of the book, sets out his cosmology and the basic principles behind his world view. It's not an easy text to interpret in its Chinese origin, nor to translate into another language with any confidence. Not to mention grasping its ideas. So, this is how I see it. Others may see it very differently.

The Way that can be walked is not the eternal Way.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of Heaven and Earth.
The named is the mother of all things.

Free from desire you see the mystery.
Full of desire you see the manifestations.
These two have the same origin but differ in name.
That is the secret,
The secret of secrets,
The gate to all mysteries.

It’s All Real
Lao Tzu begins his writing about Tao, the Way, by stating that the written word cannot fully encompass the real thing. The workings of the Way are hidden behind what we can observe. It was present at the dawn of time and the birth of the universe, but it’s visible only through what has been created out of it, in accordance with it: the whole world and all its creatures. Tao is the Way the universe works...

Here is my full commentary on this Tao Te Ching chapter:
Tao Te Ching Chapter 1 Translation and Commentary

(The image above is the first chapter of the Tao Te Ching in Chinese, the Wang Pi version.)

Here is more about my English version of the book:
Tao Te Ching – The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained
Here is the book on Amazon:
Tao Te Ching on Amazon
It's also a Kindle ebook:
Tao Te Ching – Kindle ebook

If you're Swedish, it's quicker and cheaper to order the book from AdLibris.


  1. To reach tao is like reaching the horizon. The best way is to sit still and let somebody in a distant see that you really are there.

    We are always at the horizon...

  2. If you sit still, the horizon will reach you. Well, the heavenly part of it, anyway.

  3. A couple of comments about your translation of the Tao Te Ching:
    * The book cover is very attractive.
    * You are to be commended on the degree to
    which your translation is faithful to the

    Your translation of the text adheres very closely to the conventional understanding of the text, which I feel has not been properly understood for most of its history. From what you have said in your book, I believe that you have long worked on reaching an understanding of this text, so for a significantly different perspective, visit http://taoofsilence.com.

  4. Herbert B., thank you for your kind words about my version of the Tao Te Ching. I tried to be true to the original, as much as one can be with a text in another language, written so long ago.

    I've worked on the Tao Te Ching since the late 1980's, so I guess you're right about my long time spent on it.

    I had a look at the taoofsilence website. Indeed a different approach, but still certainly respectful towards the original text. The Tao Te Ching needs several approaches, or its complexity will not be covered.