Philosophy

Tao Teh Ching
Manual

Introduction

I've been reading the Tao Teh Ching for decades now and have finally decided to try to solve some annoying translation issues all the versions I've read (which is a lot) have had, and which in my opinion actually obscure the meaning as well as the purpose of the Tao Teh Ching.

The primary problem is simply adding in too many words. At some point, all these words add up and profoundly change and distort the meaning of the original terse Chinese poems. At some point, you have to return to the poems and leave behind the translator's ideas and extra additions to get to the actual text. That is the aim of this translation.

To see an example of what will hopefully be forthcoming over the next year, read Chapter 10, which is the first part I've redone to the style the rest will eventually have.

The translations are starting out based on the original James Legge translations, with extra information taken from the Ma-wang-tui texts, as well as assorted other Taoist resources. Because I don't really speak or write Chinese, I will be using a variety of online translation resources (especially zhongwen.com), as well as a few Chinese / English dictionaries to do the work, coupled with decades of philosophical training. This should result in fairly interesting renditions of the chapters, which will hopefully be of use to some people.

Why Do A New Translation?

Why do another attempt at translating the Tao Teh Ching? already one of the most translated books on the planet? Because, to be honest, I think most of the translators have started from a false premise, that the Tao Teh Ching is primarily a book of wisdom. I do not believe this is the case. I believe it is a living, breathing manual meant to be used to return to the Way. All my selections and decisions will be based on that assumption. I further believe that when Lao Tzu said that his words were very easy to understand, but nobody understands them, that is precisely what he meant.

But, more importantly, it's because I want to have this resource available to me. In other words, I want to use this manual the way I believe it was intended to be used, and since nobody has yet created a translaton in the style of Stephen Karcher's I-Ching, the first reasonably well translated version of that classic text I've seen yet, I've decided to just go ahead and create a working copy and put it out in the world.