Tao Te Ching

The Tao Te Ching (道德經 Pinyin: Do D Jīng), roughly translated as The Book of the Way and its Virtue is an ancient Chinese scripture. The work is traditionally said to have been written around 600 BCE by the famous sage called Lao Tse (Pinyin: Laozi, WG: Lao Tzu, "Old Master"). Lao Tse is said to have been a record-keeper of the Emperor's Court of the Zhou Dynasty. The authenticity of these dates and details of authorship are still debated.

The Tao Te Ching is the fundamental text of Taoism. Its origins lost in the revolutions of Chinese history, it is known to pre-date the invention of paper. In fact its form exhibits many of the features of an oral tradition, suggesting it may pre-date writing as well. The unknown author of the Tao Te Ching is popularly known as Lao Tse, which is both "the old philosopher" and "the old philosophy". Hence Lao Tse is also a title for the book.

The poem's parallels with the Bhagavad Gita, its implicit opposition to Confucian thought, its relationship with Chuang Tse and Sun Tsu, and its distinction from the discipline of Zen are subjects of some controversy. As a thread connecting human endeavors over thousands of years, there appears no proper historical context for interpretation of the work.

Nevertheless, there are good reasons to think of Lao Tse in the context of Go. The work's emphases on impartiality, compassion, harmony and acceptance find frequent echo in fine Go play.


Niklaus: Having read and discussed some chapters of the Dao De Jing in my ancient chinese class I (or rather my professor) have quite some objections to the above paragraph. The Dao is a rather difficult and complex text, leading to lots of different interpretations. The ones that are popular today (such as the one above) may be quite different from what the author (or authors) intended at the time. My professor for example is of the opinion (and he can support it by sound reasoning) that the Dao De Jing is primarily a text about how to rule, and not very squeamishly at that!

If someone cares I can elaborate on that, but right now I'm too tired.

See for example

[ext] http://www.human.toyogakuen-u.ac.jp/~acmuller/contao/laotzu.htm

(English)

and

[ext] http://zhongwen.com/dao.htm

(Chinese)

which links to other English translations.

Scartol: There's another English translation at [ext] http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/gthursby/taoism/ttcstan3.htm with an anchored index (it's a little easier to navigate).

Peter Merel's English rendition of the Tao Te Ching is online at [ext] http://alistair.cockburn.us/Peter+Merel%27s+Tao+Te+Ching+translation. There are many others online as well, but this one has the advantage of being Open Content.


Tao Te Ching last edited by willemien on April 11, 2011 - 10:08
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