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Tao Te Ching (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
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Overview

Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

Epigrammatic, enigmatic, intensely poetic, the Tao Te Ching is the mystical, spiritual soul of Taoism, one of the three great religions (along with Confucianism and Buddhism) of ancient China. The Tao is usually translated as “the way” or “the path,” but it is better understood as a universal life force that flows around and through all things. The Tao Te Ching teaches us that happiness is found in becoming one with the Tao, which enables us to live in harmony, balance, and peace and to develop the virtues of humility, moderation, and compassion.

Taoism emphasizes “non-dualistic” thinking and the interconnectedness of all life. The “dualistic thinker” looks at the world and sees differences, comparisons, and contrasts. The Taoist sage knows that all such judgments depend on the person making them, not on the reality of what is being judged. Unlike theistic (God-centered) religions, Taoism does not involve prayer to a deity. Instead, Taoists meditate on the wisdom in the Tao Te Ching, seeking to unravel the paradoxes and understand the complexities that lie within its simple language.

Yi-Ping Ong graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Columbia University and a second B.A. in Philosophy and Theology from Oxford University. She is currently completing her Ph.D. in Philosophy at Harvard.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593082567
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 3/1/2005
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 76,665
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Yi-Ping Ong graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Columbia University and a second B.A. in Philosophy and Theology from Oxford University. She is currently completing her Ph.D. in Philosophy at Harvard.
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Read an Excerpt

From Yi-Ping Ong’s Introduction to Tao Te Ching

The Tao Te Ching is one of the most widely translated classics of all time and is without doubt the most widely translated work in Chinese. From East to West, generations of readers have marveled at its mystical yet simple profundity. It is considered to be the single most important text of Taoism. However, the question of how exactly it should be classified does not admit of a clear answer. Is the Tao Te Ching a book of ethics? Is it a religious text? Is it philosophical, especially given its focus on the deepest and truest way of seeing reality? Or is it, in fact, a work of literary genius—playful, poetic, paradoxical? No doubt the text has aspects of each and can be enjoyed for its poetry no less than for its reflections on human affairs, life, the universe, and the nature of the good. Nevertheless, one might wonder if there is an essential message to the Tao Te Ching and whether, as a consequence, there is a genre to which this message belongs.

Many have called it a book of wisdom, part of the so-called “wisdom tradition” that predates any single religion and that finds expression in texts as disparate as the Bhagavad Gita, the Socratic dialogues, and the biblical book of Proverbs. These works typically extol the study of both virtue and the obstacles to virtue; they attempt to reveal the path to right relations between humans, and to right relations between humans and the universe. Like the Tao Te Ching, these texts often focus on two primary methods by which one can acquire a deeper knowledge of virtue: gaining self-knowledge and rejecting worldly aims and standards. However, if the Tao Te Ching is to be thought of as a book of wisdom, what sense can be made of its attacks on wisdom and virtue? “Get rid of ‘holiness’ and abandon ‘wisdom’ and the people will benefit a hundredfold,” it proclaims (chapter 19). And in another passage, on the incommensurability of the Tao and virtue, we are told: “True virtue is not virtuous / Therefore it has virtue. / Superficial virtue never fails to be virtuous / Therefore it has no virtue” (chapter 38).

Upon encountering passages such as these, even the most dedicated reader may feel a temptation to reinterpret or simplify away the ensuing confusion. However, before dismissing these paradoxes as senseless, or relegating them to the level of mere word play, we must go back to the beginning—the beginning of the text, that is. There we are told, “The Tao that can be followed is not the eternal Tao. / The name that can be named is not the eternal name” (chapter 1). The internal resistance of the text itself to categorization, especially as a work that attempts to teach the nature of virtue in a way that can be “named” or “followed,” is no accident.

As with most texts that are as ancient as the Tao Te Ching, there remains some controversy over both the historical dating of the work and the biographical details of its author, Lao Tzu. The traditional view dates the text back to the sixth century B.C., largely on the basis of accounts describing a meeting between Confucius and Lao Tzu. These accounts describe Lao Tzu as an older man who is a contemporary of the younger Confucius (551–479 B.C.). However, reports of the supposed meeting were not accepted as tradition until the middle of the third century B.C., thus rendering their authority somewhat doubtful. Most modern scholars agree that the Tao Te Ching emerged in the late fourth century or early third century, about 2,500 years ago. In fact, stone tablets dated to around 300 B.C. have been found engraved with recognizable fragments of the text. Such a date would place the writing of the text at the height of one of the most intellectually productive times in Chinese history, known as the “Hundred Schools of Thought.” During this time a multitude of philosophies were developed and a rich culture of intellectual debate flourished. Besides Taoism, other schools such as Confucianism, Legalism, and Mohism gave rise to the central classical texts that were to exert a great influence on Chinese thought over the next two millennia.

The name “Lao Tzu” was not the personal name of the author, but one bestowed upon him out of respect: “Lao” means “old” or “venerable,” and “Tzu” is an honorific term attached to the names of scholars that can be roughly translated as “master.” Very little was recorded about the actual life of Lao Tzu, and consequently there is much disagreement regarding his historical existence. Although he is mentioned on scrolls dating as far back as 400 B.C., many have attributed this appearance in the historical record to mere legend. Indeed, the legends surrounding the life of Lao Tzu are truly fantastic. The historian Ssu-ma Ch’ien, author of the Shih chi (Records of the Historian), reports claims that Lao Tzu lived to more than two hundred years of age! Other legends maintain that he was born with white hair. According to Taoist tradition, he was an archivist who worked in the imperial library of the Zhou Dynasty court. It was there that he supposedly met Confucius, who had come to inquire about propriety and rites. Lao Tzu proceeded to dazzle him with his deep insight into the meaninglessness of these basic tenets of Confucian morality. According to this same story, Lao Tzu later resigned from his post in the Zhou court, then traveled west on a water buffalo to reach the great desert. He was stopped by a guard at the westernmost gate. This guard demanded that Lao Tzu—who had never, until this point, written down a word of his teachings—leave a record of his wisdom before he departed forever into the desert. The result of this request was the Tao Te Ching.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 137 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(67)

4 Star

(36)

3 Star

(21)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(7)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 139 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2006

    Not the best translation

    I was very disappointed after bringing this book home. Not only does the author provide you with a pre-packaged understandings and assumptions ripe for today's 'spiritualist' culture, but the translation itself is troublesome. It is clear that this author's own interpretation of the 'tao' comes ringing all too clear through the translation. Moreover, I found the change of pronouns to 'she' and 'her' as suspect, suggesting to me that other non-PC aspects of this work might also be edited out. Just give me the translation as acurately as possible. I rated this 'disappointing' though not a complete loss.

    20 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2005

    The Perfect Book that can be reviewed is not the Perfect Book!

    This was the first time I ever studied the classic of philosophy, the 'Tao Te Ching.' The notes by Yi-Ping Ong are exceedingly helpful, especially considering that I am a silly Westerner that is positively ignorant about Chinese history and culture. Her introduction was also extremely enlightening and allowed even a novice to grasp the major principles of Lao Tzu's philosophy. The translation by Charles Muller was easy to understand (but I cannot compare it to other translations). An excellent book and a truly wondrous philosophy! I wish I could give it an infinite number of stars! To paraphrase the Master: the perfect book that can be reviewed is not the perfect book! This book is simply TOO good for a mere five stars!!!

    12 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2008

    Very Insightful

    I truly believe that this is a suberb source of wisdom on the Tao. It is such an interesting method of thinking and can be applied quite easily to any other religous background. I enjoyed reading it and sharing in the words of Lao Tzu. To compare with other translations, I thought that this one was rather well done. It is indeed worth reading.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2006

    Recommended

    A great book on wisdom from the Tao. Even though the true author of this book is unknown (and even if its more than one person who wrote it) it still provides useful solutions to some of our spiritual and ethical problems.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2000

    Good for coffee table

    Good spiritual poetry and pleasing photography

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2014

    A Recommended Edition

    Although the introduction to this edition of the Tao Te Ching is not accurate, I highly recommend this ancient text to all seeking a higher understanding and approach to experiencing life itself.

    Known as an integral part of understanding Tao (or, 'the way') its purpose is well served through a series of odd paradoxes and other thought exercises. These are designed to impart a sense of higher wisdom and humaneness.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Very organized and Words are compelling. Tend to make you become a better person. Shows you the ways of life and why certain things are the way they are. Makes the reader calm and focused thinking about what had read. creative sentences.

    This book is mostly cultural. not so modern to think of. but its content are amazing. for example: "...he who knows himself is wise..." this is in fact a relevant sentence. the book contains many more principles of life, and tend to give encouragement to these who feel weak because of the way people's moral are in today's world. very educational. its just like a book of proverbs. Fiknd your way in life, but don't forget to think of others.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    It is the most faithful and satisfying translation for me, a Chinese

    I am a Chinese. I like Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching or Tao Te Sutra very much. I searched and read many English translations, but I was always not very satisfied with their translations comparing the original Chinese meanings. After I read this book, I think it is the most faithful and satisfying English version. The translator understood Lao Tzu completely and never gave excess transcendental meanings. I am wondering who is translator of this book, why there is no introduction and the biography of the translator'? I really appreciate if who can tell me the translator with his biography.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2012

    To you peoole

    You are wrong. Just stop. Major issues

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2012

    Good, but will need to read it again

    This is a veru interesting book, but a reread (or three) may be needed to fully understand it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 21, 2010

    An elite work worthy of separate billing from other translations

    As one reads multiple English translations of Tao Te Ching, it becomes apparent how extremely difficult it must be to capture the essence of such a profound and yet beautiful Chinese linguistic treasure. Star has done a superb job of preserving literal accuracy in his text, as evidenced, if one were to doubt, by the copious translational notes. However, he has done more that simply translate literally, and he has also avoided the oft-adopted imposition a poetic imperative to this work.

    Star seems to understand and preserve the simple directness of the philosophic message, without paring away important context and thematic imagery at the most critical junctures. Without being tedious, the translation is thorough and poignant, and without being artsy, it is intellectually rhythmic and resonant.

    Most notably, Star emphasizes the universally accessible wisdom of the Tao Te Ching while skillfully diffusing the mystic and esoteric entanglements that often seem to arise in other translations. In short, he makes Tao most comprehensible to the reader without losing its essential depth and clarity. I would highly recommend this translation to anyone from the curious casual reader to the advanced intent scholar.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Pure wisdom

    This book is really great. Made me think about a lot of things that I really hadn't considered before. I would recommend this book to anyone who feels a little confused about their life, and anyone who just wants to better themselves.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2009

    Standard translation-god standard translation with good Art

    This is a standard late 19th century translation by James Legge. The text is easy to read but the Artwork sets it apart. The reproductions are of good quality with the frequent guttering of images being the only complaint; this is the one thing that always flaws an otherwise excellent book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2007

    great wisdom

    I think a lot more people should read this book because it helps people see clearer. Young people should really read this not as a required book but as a book that can help them into their journey into adulthood.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2014

    200-300

    &#200&#201&#202&#203&#204&#205&#206&#207&#208&#209&#210&#211&#212&#213&#214&#215&#216&#217&#218&#219&#220&#221&#222&#223&#224&#225&#226&#227&#228&#229&#230&#231&#232&#233&#234&&#235&#236&#237&#238&#239&#240&#241&#242&#243&#244&#245&#246&#247&#248&#249&#250&#251&#252&#253&#254&#255&#256&#257&#258&#259&#260&#261&#262&#263&#264&#265&#266&#267&#268&#269&#270&#271&#272&#273&#274&#275&#276&#277&#278&#279&#280&#281&#282&#283&#284&#285&#286&#287&#288&#289&#290&#291&#292&#293&#294&#295&#296&#297&#298&#299&#300

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2014

    100-200

    &#100&#101&#102&#103&#104&#105&#106&#107&#108&#109&#110&#111&#112&#113&#114&#115&#116&#117&#118&#119&#120&#121&#122&#123&#124&#125&#126&#127&#128&#129&#130&#131&#132&#133&#134&#135&#136&#137&#138&#139&#140&#141&#142&#143&#144&#145&#146&#147&#148&#149&#150&#151&#152&#153&#154&#155&#156&#157&#158&#159&#160&#161&#162&#163&#164&#165&#166&#167&#168&#169&#170&#171&#172&#173&#174&#175&#176&#177&#178&#179&#180&#181&#182&#183&#184&#185&#186&#187&#188&#189&#190&#191&#192&#193&#194&#195&#196&#197&#198&#199&#200

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2013

    Good

    Good

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2013

    Hummmm

    Walks away. Beautiful

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2013

    Ok.....

    I was going to use this as a demigod camp, but........ nevermind

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2012

    Daniel

    He thr.usts into her harder, his dik hitting her g-spot. He starts kissing her and groping her huge b.oobs, his dik growing inside of her

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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