Te-Tao Ching

Okay, I’m looking to buy a copy of ‘Te-Tao Ching’, by Lao Tsu. Which version/translation is your favorite & why? Any other good Taoist books you’ve read? Thanks all, & may the Tao be with you!!! - JC

First, it’s Tao Te Ching.

Second, I don’t recommend Stephen Mitchell’s version, & not just 'cause my copy was missing the last few pages of the appendix :mad:. Mitchell tends to reinterpret stuff in an odd “feminist” way, adding things that aren’t in the original.

I have no opinion about other translations.

Is that like a sequel to Tao Te Ching or something? :wink:


I have the Addiss-Lombardo translation, ISBN 0-87220-232-1, and I love it. Highly recommended.

I like the old Arthur Waley translation, though I’d like to get a look at Ursula K. Leguin’s version. I also like this Discordian “translation” of the first 9 chapters, The Big Book of Fnord.

I’ve got the Penguin edition – I don’t recall the translator. I also have a Signet edition, which includes brief “interpretations” of the sections, and which I do not trust at all. I also have an audio tape version I listen to in the car, but I can’t recall which edition it is. Of the ones I’ve read or listened to, the Penguin edition seems “cleanest”.

The Tao Te Ching is obscure enough by itself. You probably should pick up some books on Taoism as well. I have a couple by John Blofeld that seem pretty good (although I keep imagining him petting a white cat).

I strongly disagree with the earlier post. I have read many transalations of this text as it is the closest thing to a Bible that I have ever found. I think Steven Mitchell’s translation is the best. As far as his “feminist translation” all he does is place both “he” and “she” in different places. The book contains little poems on the art of living and the subject of the poems is the Master - one who is in harmony with the Tao. Mitchell merely uses both pronouns as a way of emphasizing that the Tao is accessible to anyone. That aside, many other translations seem awkward in their attempts at word for word translations. Mitchell’s has a clarity and simplicity that have always made it the best for me.

I have and enjoy this copy: “Lao Tzu: Te-Tao Ching: A new translation based on the recently discovered Ma-Wang-Tui texts” ISBN: 0345370996

This book is based on texts discovered in 1973, that were at that time the oldest Te-Tao Ching texts ever discovered. (I don’t know if older ones have been found since.) Those particular texts were found to have the order Te & Tao Ching, thus the title, which the authors suggest is the correct title, not “Tao Te Ching”. I tend to agree, unless more recent evidence suggests otherwise.

I carried a passage in my wallet for years:

I like the John C.H. Wu translation for Shambhala Dragon Editions. (ISBN 0877733880.) I may be biased though, because it was the first one I read. I didn’t think much of the Mitchell translation either, but now I can’t remember why.

I think the entire work is short enough, and subtle enough to make is wise to begin with two translations, and read them in parallel.

Here is a hypertext version of one translation on line and here is another. There are more, these were among the first I found, searching. I recommend reading a large number of different translations, including some commentary by respected Taoist scholars.

Learning of the Tao is not accomplished by a single reading, and the vision of the translator is not the only veil through which you must learn to peer. Each of us brings his own foolishness and his own wisdom to the way.

“The Tao that can be purchased is not the Tao that is.”

Does that apply to songs as well? Because I feel that I walk the Tao when I use Napster.

I’ve got news for you!

There really is an edition titled Te-Tao Ching. An old manuscript turned up in which the order of the two parts was reversed: the Te part was placed before the Tao part.

Te-tao ching; translated from the Ma-wang-tui texts, with an introduction and commentary, by Robert G. Henricks. New York: Modern Library, 1993.

So–surprise!–the OP’s wording was not incorrect.

Thank you so much for this!