Lao Zi/Lao Tzu conveys the essence of his teaching through Dao De Jing/Tao Te Ching <<道德經>> in 5,000 Chinese words and 81 chapters, with a literary style terse and concise. To this day, the teaching remains a central influence in Chinese culture.
As legend has it, most of his life Lao Zi maintained that ‘The Dao that can be told is not the eternal Dao’. However, right before Lao Zi was riding off into the desert to become immortal, a gatekeeper in northwestern China pleaded with him to impart his wisdom – that’s how in the sixth century B.C. Dao De Jing came into existence.
There are a great variety of English translations (many can be found on this wonderful site – Terebess Asia Online), each has its own interpretation of Lao Zi’s views and insights. More often than not, you see a translator shifts the tone just so slightly, and the whole meaning of a sentence can glide a ten thousand li away from another translator’s inference. Even the Chinese original has different versions, possibly achieved by different placements of a punctuation mark. And you suspect that certain old-world elements in the text could be better attuned to today’s senses, if we want to bring about the maximum benefit.
Therefore, one must keep a beginner’s mind, open and spacious, without herd mentality or blind faith in any renown experts. Ultimately, one is responsible for one’s own learning. What I share herein is just my own version of interpretation:
(To be continued)