Lao Tse

(transliterated as Laozi, Lǎozǐ, Lao Tzu, Lao Tse, Laotze and other ways as well)


Impressive! -- do try these pages. -- MartineDevos

Wonderful! -- excellent translation. -- ThomasHelvey?

I'm not a favorer of this particular translation, as I feel it lacks certain critical meanings which are present in the original Chinese but not here. I recommend the version by Dr. John C. H. Wu, ISBN 0-87773-388-0 , myself. -- TaralDragon

Wu's translation is by all accounts excellent, and one I've been meaning to get around to. But I'm very interested in your criticism, and would really like to know any way the GNL version is lacking. The best thing about having a version under a GPL is it stays open to change. If you'd prefer you could email me at, or comment here, whichever suits. Thanks! --PeterMerel

For the BEST version of the TaoTeChing, get Master Ni's version: The Esoteric Tao Te Ching - It's written by true Taoist Master rather than an Intellectual or a 'mere' Scholar. (see their web site at

- Tushar

Someone who calls himself "Master" is selling something. Someone who calls himself "Taoist" simply doesn't get it. And someone who despises scholarship is far from the way. It has always been like this. TaoChiao is for people who can't handle TaoChia.

I suggest the Ellen M. Chen translation. -- EricHerman
If no action is taken
Harmony remains.

So, would that be "harmony" as in "the peasants and bondsmen continue to know their place"? Or, "harmony" as in "the Emperor's rule continues to be absolute"? Or, "harmony" as in "the civil service continues to strangulate the country"? Or, "harmony" as in "female infants continue to be exposed and die and buried secretly"?, or some other kind of harmony not requiring large chunks of a large and well-resourced country to live in fear and poverty and powerlessness? -- AnonymousDonor1

I would guess that harmony was before those things and that those things were caused by some action. -- AnonymousDonor2

Oh? I see, all the bad stuff in the world came when people started doing actions. Right, I get it now. Just like we had no sin before the serpent tempted Eve, and like the time before Pandora opened the box and there was no ill in the world. Sorry, I didn't realize that this was all just post-hoc mythologizing to cover up the less savoury aspects of human nature. -- AnonymousDonor3

I would have interpreted 'harmony' as 'a lack of civil war'. - a fourth AnonymousDonor

On word choice, "harmony" is merely my best effort at finding a word for Te that fits the contexts used in the poem. Te is more commonly translated as "virtue" or "power", but neither seems to me to fit the use. I suppose poor old Lao, if he ever existed, would be amazed, appalled and amused at the mess we poor interpolators have made of him with our actions. -- PeterMerel

Within te is the concept of potential, as the quote above demonstrates. The translation of te as "virtue" or "power" is natural to me, and more suggestive of its true nature than "harmony," unless one recognizes the potential action within harmony. Before you roll the dice, anything is possible, but once released, there is no question that there is a finite result, marked by a definite limit. This recalls Schroedinger's Cat. As you can see, there is much more to this than oppress the disenfranchised -- MikeMann

It is too easy to gloss LaoTse. It is too easy to read in whatever you want to read in. Speaking with authority on LaoTse suggests ignorance of LaoTse.

Spoken with authority. --EasternWuss
See Also: ISBN 1-55778-238-5 , ISBN 0-345-37099-6 , ISBN 0-553-34935-X , ISBN 1-57062-333-3 , WhatIsTao, TaoTeChing

If no action is taken
Harmony remains.

If no WikiZens, Zen remains :)

I would guess that harmony was before those things and that those things were caused by some action. by -- AnonymousDonor2

Harmony is movin' yer bowels. If they don't move, people take action. But me, I just take fiber. --EasternWuss

Fiber doesn't do the trick actually, believe me, you have to be going and jumping and moving. Otherwise it is a near-complete stand-still of your intestines. Kneeling and laying and standing up again would actually do the trick, believe the Muslims. --CarstenKlein

Dhands & Bethaiks pre-date Mohammed by a great many years.

Well, yes and no. Where harmony is there is total equilibrium. Total or absolute equilibriums means that there is nothingness within nothingness, which is actually a paradoxon meaning that there is everything at once within absolute nothingness which basically also means that from harmony we come to absolute turmoil or rather, in physical terms, total entropy. And this is where it all began, the universe and all. From within absolute harmony, the absolute equilibrium of non-events. A state that cannot actually exist, as far as my analysis of the matter goes...

In terms of Lao harmony simply means, forging the people being led by some puppet steered by the puppeteer, that is, the wise men, are in harmony iff they succumb to a common culture and common belief. This, however, always also leaves the question of whether or not that harmony is actually achievable and why it should remain constant, I mean, who is actually sufficient with what the state system in which one is living provides for oneself? Isn't there a better way to achieve things, to make things work and wouldn't it be better if everyone would be following yours instead of theirs cultural believes? in that it would preserve a new kind of harmony, namely, yours?

-- CarstenKlein

That's a lot of words. But where you're going there ain't no equilibrium, no nothingness, no paradox, no everything, no turmoil, no entropy, no universe, no non-events, no states, no existence, no analysis, no absolute, no wisdom, no culture, no belief, no Lao, no people, no puppets, no achievment, no constant, no system, no things, no work ... like CookDing says, any way you slice it, it's baloney. --EasternWuss

Aw, you're in all denial. And yes, everything is virtual.'' --CarstenKlein

No denial, no virtual, no things, no me, no you, no yes, no no, no ,. --EasternWuss

The Way that can be experienced is not true; The world that can be constructed is not true. - I usually read it as:
  A way descriable is not constant way
  A name namable is not constant name  -YauKwanKiu.

"Constant name"? "Constant way"? What can these odd words mean? And I can't find "descriable" or "namable" in my dictionary. Perhaps it isn't "constant dictionary"?

Constant spelling flame?

CategoryEasternThought CategoryOffTopic

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