In what may be the most faithful translation of the "Tao Te Ching," the translators have captured the terse, enigmatic beauty of the original masterpiece without embellishing it with personal interpretation or bogging it down with explanatory notes. By stepping out of the way and letting the original text speak for itself, they deliver a powerfully direct experience of the "Tao Te Ching" that is a joy to come back to again and again.
And for the first time in any translation of the "Tao Te Ching," now you can interact with the text to experience for yourself the nuanced art of translating. In each of the eighty-one chapters, one significant line has been highlighted and alongside it are the original Chinese characters with their transliteration. You can then turn to the glossary and translate this line on your own, thereby deepening your understanding of the original text and of the myriad ways it can be translated into English.
Complementing the text are twenty-three striking ink paintings brushed by Stephen Addiss and an introduction by the esteemed Asia scholar Burton Watson.
About the Author
A J Girling was introduced to Taoism, and initiated by a Taoist Master, in the 1980's. Since then Girling has dedicated extensive time to the contemplation and research that resulted in this edition of the Tao Te Ching being written.
In addition to two years of intensive academic research, Girling spent several contemplative years in an isolated woodland setting, without mains services or the usual luxuries of modern living. In this environment Girling became more intimately acquainted with nature, and with the true nature of being. It was a very useful experience, during which Girling began to appreciate that the ultimate aim of Taoism is not to detach from society as an ascetic, but to "unite with the dust of the world." When we have tasted the divine joy of being through meditation, we begin to practice mindful awareness in daily affairs. As Lao Tzu pointed out in chapter fifteen:
How can one attain stillness? By bringing it slowly to life.
Study of Taoist philosophy ultimately led Girling to the discovery that the hearts of even the most seemingly different religions hold the same core truths: irrespective of whether they are non-theist, poly-theist or mono-theist, all are ultimately founded on universal love and mindfulness. This was the driving force behind the creation of a work that illustrates, through Lao Tzu's teaching, the commonality and interconnectedness inherent in the whole of humanity.
The book was a work of love, written with the primary intention of illuminating, as clearly as possible, the profound wisdom of the text, and dispelling many of the misunderstandings surrounding Taoist philosophy. In the process, the Tao Te Ching gently guided the translator to include insights from global traditions, thereby according with Lao Tzu's teaching on the infinite oneness that unites the world.
Girling hopes that this new edition may contribute not only to a better understanding of Taoism, but also to the reunification of the global human family, and to the cultivation of greater happiness and well-being in individuals and society.
Moss Roberts is Professor of Chinese at New York University. He has translated the classic novel "Three Kingdoms, " published by University of California Press in both unabridged (California, 1991, 2000, copublished with Foreign Languages Press) and abridged (California, 1999) editions. He is also the editor and translator of "Chinese Fairy Tales and Fantasies" (1979).
Stephen Addiss is Tucker-Boatwright Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Art History, University of Richmond.
“This crystalline translation of the Tao Te Ching is accurate down to the nuance and is as concisely poetic as the original. Of the many translations I have read in English, this is unquestionably the best.”—Gary Snyder
“This is by far the best translation on the market today.”—Livia Kohn, Professor of Religion, Boston University