Written during the golden age of Chinese philosophy, and composed partly in prose and partly in verse, the Tao Te Ching is surely the most terse and economical of the world’s great religious texts. In a series of short, profound chapters it elucidates the idea of the Tao, or the Way–an idea that in its ethical, practical, and spiritual dimensions has become essential to the life of China’s enormously powerful civilization. In the process of this elucidation, Lao-tzu both clarifies and deepens those central religious mysteries around which our life on earth revolves.
Translation of the Ma Wang Tui Manuscripts by D. C. Lau
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
About the Author
The first reliable reference to Laozi is his "biography" in Shiji (63, tr. Chan 1963:35-37), by Chinese historian Sima Qian (ca. 145-86 BC), which combines three stories. First, Laozi was a contemporary of Confucius (551-479 BC). His surname was Li, and his personal name was Er or Dan "long ear." He was an official in the imperial archives, and wrote a book in two parts before departing to the West. Second, Laozi was Lao Laizi "Old Come Master," also a contemporary of Confucius, who wrote a book in 15 parts. Third, Laozi was the Grand Historian and astrologer Lao Dan ("Old Long-ears"), who lived during the reign (384-362 BC) of Duke Xian (Qin). Generations of scholars have debated the historicity of Laozi and the dating of the Tao Te Ching. Linguistic studies of the text's vocabulary and rhyme scheme point to a date of composition after the Shi Jing yet before the Zhuangzi. Legends claim variously that Laozi was "born old"; that he lived for 996 years, with twelve previous incarnations starting around the time of the Three Sovereigns before the thirteenth as Laozi. Some Western scholars have expressed doubts over Laozi's historical existence, claiming that the Tao Te Ching is actually a collection of the work of various authors.
Professor D. C. Lau, a world renowned scholar on sinological studies, is professor emeritus of Chinese language and Lliterature at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is reknowned for his classic English translations of "Tao Te Ching," the "Mencius," and "The Analects of Confucius,"
“The power of the Lao-tzu’s imagery and, ultimately, the simplicity of its message seem to be able to overcome the problems of language and of distance in time and place, so that at the end of the twentieth century, this has become one of the most influential of texts, cherished by people in all walks of life throughout the world.” –from the Introduction by Sarah Allan