Written more than two thousand years ago, the "Tao Teh Ching, " or "The Classic of the Way and Its Virtue," has probably had a greater influence on Asian thought that any other single book. It is also one of the true classics of world literature.
Traditionally attributed to the near-legendary "Old Master," Lao Tzu, the "Tao Teh Ching " teaches that the qualities of the enlightened sage or ideal ruler are identical with those of the perfected individual. Today, Lao Tzu's words are as useful in mastering the arts of leadership in business and politics as they are in developing a sense of balance and harmony in everyday life. To follow the Tao or Way of all things and realize their true nature is to embody humility, spontaneity, and generosity.
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.
"Written more than two thousand years ago, the Tao Teh Ching is probably the most influential work of Asian thought. . . . This lucid translation demonstrates that these teachings are useful in the arts of leadership as they are in developing a sense of balance and harmony in everyday life."— Branches of Light