Tao Te Ching

The Tao Te Ching (http://www.chinapage.org/gnl.html), literally "the classic of harmony and the Way" is the fundamental text of Taoism. Its origins lost in the series of cultural purges that make up Chinese history, it is known to predate the invention of paper. In fact, its form exhibits many of the features of an oral tradition, which suggests it may predate writing too. The work's parallels with the BhagavadGita and explicit criticisms of Confucian thought, its relationship with ChuangTse and SunTse, and its distinction from the disciplines of Zen are subjects of some controversy.

The author of the TaoTeChing is popularly known as LaoTse, which is both "the old philosopher" and "the old philosophy". LaoTse is also a title for the book. Many myths, religions, cults, yogas, and martial disciplines have sprung up around LaoTse, but the text is most relevant here as a philosophical treatise.

The meaning of the thing is very difficult to summarize. Ancient Chinese does not translate easily into modern Chinese as the meanings of the various pictograms have evolved, undocumented, over the millennia. Translation into English presents more problems, as English and Chinese involve very different maps of what's happening. And its sheer antiquity has burdened the work with plentiful copying errors, editorial remarks, revisions and misunderstandings. Worst of all, most folk that quote LaoTse are selling something.

But, these caveats accepted, the TTC's premise seems to be that only harmony can endure. It then goes on to describe patterns by which harmony can be fostered and leveraged. There's a lot more in the work than this, and you're best off making up your mind about it yourself.

-- PeterMerel

The common story of Tao Te Ching told of how LaoTse wrote Tao Te Ching for a border general before he left the border of the civilized world in ancient China, which suggests it did not pre-date writing. Then again, this story is widely considered apocryphal.. Moreover, LaoTse is only "old master" by literally word for word translating it. Many texts mentioned LaoTse to have the name Lao Yi, Lao being his surname, calling him LaoTse is a kind of honorary, like KungFuTse or ChuangTse. Then again, LaoTse being also the earliest recorded use of "tse" ("tse" means son, seed, or master), the honorific may postdate the origin of text. No-one knows.

A well known known taoist martial art is called TaiChi See TaichiFightIsCalledTuiso.

From having read both the Chinese "original" and many English translations, I can honestly say that this is the best description of the TaoTeChing I have ever seen. It is definitely worth keeping in mind that there is always more to the TTC than what any one translation can hold. -- TaralDragon

The only translation I've ever read is JohnHeider's TheTaoOfLeadership - but, wow! Definitely one of the wisest, most insightful works on LeaderShip I've ever read (interestingly enough, the other is written by a Christian: JamesHunter's TheServant - corny writing, but some nuggets are in there). TheTaoOfLeadership should be required reading for anyone who ever finds themself responsible for leading a group of people in an endeavor (in particular, leading a group of software developers in a project). -- RandyStafford

If you are interested in different translations of the TaoTeChing, you might enjoy MetaTao. -- ErikMeade


In my opinion, one of the strengths of the Tao is its ability to be applied on a large number of knowledge-domains. In the first half of the 90s, I was heavily invloved in the first (original) IRC-implementation and I then wrote The Tao of IRC. You may enjoy it at http://www.irc.org/history_docs/tao.html. -- OveRubenOlsen

It was also applied to the art of picking up chicks in TaoOfSteve.

Robert G. Henricks' translation of the Te Tao Ching (sic) ISBN 0679600604 is unique in that it is translated from the second oldest (168 b.c.e.) original copy yet discovered.

One of the striking features of the Ma-wang-tui texts of Lao-tzu in fact is that they are much more "grammatical" than later editions, using many more grammatical particles than later editions, but for that very reason being grammatically much more precise. His comments and notes on the Chinese are invaluable for an English-speaking student.

He has since translated the older (300 b.c.e.), Guodian Laozi discovery ISBN 0231118163 . -- MikeMann

My understanding is that Chinese became less morphological and relied more heavily on grammar and grammatical particles as time passed, which should mean that dropping particles wouldn't have been a question of precision, but of correctness -- and that they should have been used increasingly as the language evolved. Which then suggests that the "later" editions using fewer particles might in fact have been copies of versions even earlier than the date of the "more grammatical Ma-wang-tui" texts.

Was this in fact somehow ruled out? -- DougMerritt

==Visitor here== Come & See us at [[http://hwww.sgwiki.com/wiki/Tao]] and myself I am Chinese and well verse in oral Classics from "Three Word Book" - ever heard of harmony and contextualize'', you can get more info at Sgwiki.com -the friendly "wikis" in Singapore! ~Terry How~

See ContradictionInTaoism.

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