Tao Te Ching: Text Only Edition

Tao Te Ching: Text Only Edition

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by Lao Tsu

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For nearly two generations, this translation of the Tao Te Ching has been the standard for those seeking access to the wisdom of Taoist thought. Now Jane English and her long-time editor, Toinette Lippe, have refreshed and revised the translation, so that it more faithfully reflects the Classical Chinese in which it was first written, while taking into


For nearly two generations, this translation of the Tao Te Ching has been the standard for those seeking access to the wisdom of Taoist thought. Now Jane English and her long-time editor, Toinette Lippe, have refreshed and revised the translation, so that it more faithfully reflects the Classical Chinese in which it was first written, while taking into account changes in our own language and eliminating any lingering infelicities.
Lao Tsu’s philosophy is simple: Accept what is in front of you without wanting the situation to be other than it is. Study the natural order of things and work with it rather than against it, for to try to change what is only sets up resistance. Nature provides everything without requiring payment or thanks. It does so without discrimination. So let us present the same face to everyone and treat them all as equals, however they may behave. If we watch carefully, we will see that work proceeds more quickly and easily if we stop “trying,” if we stop putting in so much extra effort, if we stop looking for results. In the clarity of a still and open mind, truth will be reflected. Te—which may be translated as “virtue” or “strength”—lies always in Tao meaning “the way” or “natural law.” In other words: Simply be.

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Random House
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The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal name. The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth. The named is the mother of ten thousand things. Ever desireless, one can see the mystery. Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations. These two spring from the same source but differ in name; This appears as darkness. Darkness within darkness. The gate to all mystery.


Under heaven all can see beauty as beauty only because there is ugliness. All can know good as good only because there is evil. Therefore having and not having arise together; Difficult and easy complement each other; Long and short contrast each other; High and low rest upon each other; Voice and sound harmonize each other; Front and back follow each other. Therefore the wise go about doing nothing, teaching -no--talking. The ten thousand things rise and fall without cease, Creating, yet not possessing, Working, yet not taking credit. Work is done, then forgotten. Therefore it lasts forever.


Not exalting the gifted prevents quarreling. Not collecting treasures prevents stealing. Not seeing desirable things prevents confusion of the heart. The wise therefore rule by emptying hearts and stuffing bellies, By weakening ambitions and strengthening bones. If people lack knowledge and desire, Then it is best not to interfere. If nothing is done, then all will be well.


The Tao is an empty vessel; it is used, but never filled. Oh, unfathomable source of ten thousand things! Blunt the sharpness, Untangle the knot, Soften the glare, Merge with dust. Oh, hidden deep but ever present! I do not know from whence it comes. It is the forefather of the ancestors.


Heaven and earth are impartial; They see the ten thousand things as they are. The wise are impartial; They see the people as they are. The space between heaven and earth is like a bellows. The shape changes but not the form; The more it moves, the more it yields. More words count less. Hold fast to the center.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

What People are saying about this

Alan Watts
No one has done better in conveying Lao Tsu's simple and laconic style of writing, so as to produce an English version almost as suggestive of the many meanings intended. This is a most useful, as well as beautiful, volume —and what it has to say is exactly what the world, in its present state, needs to hear.

Meet the Author


GIA-FU FENG was born in 1919 in Suzhou. He grew up in Shanghai and during World War II graduated from Peking University. He came to the United States in 1947 and earned a Master’s Degree at the Wharton School. Meeting Alan Watts in San Francisco and studying at the American Academy of Asian Studies, he found the path he had been seeking. He taught at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California and founded Stillpoint Foundation, a Taoist community in Colorado where he lived until his death in 1985.
JANE ENGLISH was born in Boston. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College and received her doctorate in experimental high energy particle physics from the University of Wisconsin. Her other books and calendars include Different Doorway: Adventures of a Caesarean Born, Fingers Pointing to the Moon, and the IceWisdom Calendar. She lives in Vermont. Her current work may be seen at www.eheart.com.
TOINETTE LIPPE worked at Alfred A. Knopf for more than thirty years. In 1989, she founded the Bell Tower imprint. Her own books include Nothing Left Over: A Plain and Simple Life and Caught in the Act: Reflections on Being, Knowing, and Doing. She now devotes herself to East Asian brush painting and her paintings and cards can be seen at www.toinettelippe.com.
JACOB NEEDLEMAN is professor emeritus of philosophy at San Francisco State University. Among his books are Lost Christianity, The American Soul,  and What Is God?. In addition to his teaching and writing, he serves as a consultant in the fields of psychology, education, medical ethics, and philanthropy, and he was featured on Bill Moyers’ acclaimed PBS series, “A World of Ideas.”  www.jacobneedleman.com.

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Tao Te Ching 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 73 reviews.
PorscheWarrior More than 1 year ago
Translation is great, love the use of both 'he' and 'she' throughout. As the author points out, the original Chinese is gender-neutral - so the use of both he and she makes it appealing to myself as a woman because I find the use of 'he' all the time in other texts to be annoying. It is nice that this translation uses both. Thought-provoking yet relaxing. Easy read, but to really grasp it, it should be read slowly or read through multiple times. Very refreshing read that I keep near me always now.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read many versions and translations of The Tao Te Ching. This one flows like the water of a stream. It is the true embodiement of the Tao. I highly recommend this and most other of Stephen Mitchell's books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As other reviewers have already pointed out, this book is not really a translation at all. It's basically a mish-mash of some of the original material and the author's own politically correct new age philosophy. For instance, Mitchell always uses the female pronoun in refering to sages, but that is incorrect. The original Chinese is gender-neutral. There are also many omissions in this translation. Some of the best passages from the original Tao Te Ching are nowhere to be found in this book. The reason this book has become so popular is that, well, people are fairly gullible. Most do not know Chinese -- I on the other hand am a native speaker despite being Caucasian -- so they trust the opinion of academics and scholars. Unfortunately, in this case these learned folks have really dropped the ball. They don't have to be critical, but at least they should refrain from calling this book authentic or authoritative. The truth is that it is neither. Barnes & Noble has many other translations available. I advise people to look at the other choices.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is nothing like the true Tao Te Ching. In fact, it shouldn't even be called by that name. It is loosely based on the original, but is full of Mitchell's own New Age ideas. If you want true literal translations that also have commentaries, Ellen M. Chen, Derek Lin, and Rodney A. Cooper are excellent choices. Mitchell's version is completely different than the original. Its a real shame that it has gained such popularity.
CWood More than 1 year ago
A great book. Insightful, intellectual, and impossible to put down. A spiritual must read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is not a translation of the Dao De Jing. This is an interpretation. Stephen Mitchell puts his personal spin on many passages and teachers of Asian Religion an Philosophy warn against his writing on this subject. When compared to the original text there is much that differs. This is a version that incorporates more new age western thinking than classic Daoist thought. If you're looking for comforting ideas this is the text for you, but if you're looking for Doaist text try the translation by Red Pine
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the book you need to condense the teachings of many other holy books into one. And you can carry it with you and keep it close to you for daily inspiration.
lunged More than 1 year ago
If you are only going to read one version, this should be it. A very easy to read translation. Ideally, you should read this along with a more traditional translation - you'll get the most out of the text that way. When you read more than one translation, you really start to form your own unique conclusions, and that is the most important part.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Clearly the best translation. Captures the meaning, humor and depth of Tao.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If I could only have 3 books - this would be top on my list
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite translation of the Tao Te Ching. It is easy to read and a joy to learn.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once I pick this book up I can't put it down. It was to me recommended by a friend. The author explains the text well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this is a feel good, slap your forehead and go "duh, of course" listen....seriously, very calming and something I've been listening to daily and thoroughly enjoying.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've been given other versions of the Tao de Ching to read, but none have shone the quality and the essence of the original author as I believe this one by Stephen Mitchell does. It's one of those books you read very slowly, again and again, and let the beauty of it sink in to your being. It's truth has given me a peace like nothing else-- a sidewards glance and acceptance of the paradox of life. My version is a hard copy with a ribbon page saver, which I relish! Thank you!
Guest More than 1 year ago
On comparing the original and translation, this translation of the Chinese classic is quite unsatisfactory. The translator presents the basic ideas of Taoism, but deviates from the original Tao Te Ching. I am quite disappointed about the translator's work. Many important points found in the original work were cut in the translation. It is my advice for other purchasers not to buy this translation; it would be a waste.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a fun and happy presentation of the Tao Te Ching with good translations. I would definately recommend it as both a piece of literature and art. It's the kind of book that sparks conversation on a coffee table. Peace.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Changed my life
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im in a race for fnaf rp!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All books and life in the world summed up!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
&love &#love
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