As we embark on looking in to the Tao Te Ching, I want to take this opportunity to let the readers know that I cannot offer a unique translation of the text. I do not speak Chinese nor do I know how to write it and I know how to read very little of it. The only contextual analysis that may happen is based on my own study of the text from multiple English translations. However, that being said, the beauty in studying Tao is that it is beyond words and language and everyone's experience of the Tao is in fact a unique manifestation of the Tao. In the first chapter (from most arrangements of the text) Lao Tzu, its author, clearly states that the Tao is beyond words and ideas and that naming things has its place but if it is named, it is not the eternal Tao. My own interpretation of the Tao Te Ching comes from years of studying the text and later popular Taoist writers that followed in the tradition of Lao Tzu. My interpretation also comes from years of mindfulness practice primarily in the tradition of Zen Buddhism, which is in fact a marriage of Indian Buddhism and Chinese Taoism. The intention of this blog is to provide a translation that informs the practice of mindfulness which can be applied to the many forms of mindfulness practice. In true Taoist fashion, my own mindfulness practice has revolved around sitting meditation as well as liturgy, diet and equally important physical activity such as Tai Chi and Qigong. When a passage is offered from the Tao Te Ching, I will provide my own interpretation of the chapter from multiple sources and my own feel of the chapter informed from my own practice, so that each chapter presented will sometimes be uniquely worded as I understand each chapter. In this way, there is a new "translation" offered, but not from the original Chinese texts.
However, since words and language itself are limited in its ability to point directly to the Tao, this blog, at best, will only be the finger pointing at the moon. Never can it be the moon itself. I will be back here shortly to offer the first chapter of the Tao Te Ching, a chapter that if fully understood and engaged, can fully highlight the entire meaning of the complete 81 chapters of the text.
To briefly summarize the meaning of the text's title: Tao simply means the way, or way of the universe and Te simply means virtue or power of virtue and Ching means book or text, so the title can simply be read as a book about the way and its virtuous power. In China, often times the text is simply referred to as the Lao Tzu after its supposed author which could mean Master Lao or sometimes referred to as the old boy or old child.
I hope to see you back here for the next installment of the Tao Te Blog.