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10 thoughts on “The Essential Tao: An Initiation into the Heart of Taoism through the Authentic Tao Te Ching and the Inner Teachings of Chuang-Tzu

  1. says:

    The four stars are for the translation Ranking the Tao Te Ching or Chuang Tzu is a fairly hilarious idea, equivalent to rating the New Testament No book of any sort is important to my way of thinking and, to the extent I can stay centered and uncentered, acting, in the world Taoism is grounded in notions of flow, of the generative emptiness at the center of all things, and the Tao Te Ching particularly emphasizes the implications for political and social life.For Americans, the main point is to embrace yin energy We ain t good at it.Anyway, I m in the process of reading my way through Cleary s collected translations of the key texts of both the Taoist and the closely related Buddhist traditions A Harvard professor who knows the traditions and the cloud of commentaries surrounding the key texts inside and out, Cleary has given us a set of gifts of inestimable value If you follow my reviews, you ll be hearing about the specifics regularly over the next few years provided I don t get hit by a bus and all.In the case of these texts, his translation places a very heavy emphasis on what I d call the Confucian dimension of the text the readings and interpretations that foreground the implications for those in public life This is a part of what they re about and anyone translating the Chinese characters is going to have to make choices Cleary s are useful and defensible, but I prefer Stephen Mitchell s less scholarly, poetic, and inward translation of the Tao Te Ching Cleary s not a poet and that s okay, but if you stick with his version, you ll have trouble understanding why I love and honor this book as deeply as I do.


  2. says:

    My problem with the Tao Te Ching and the Teachings of Chang Tzu is that they are too esoteric I started reading with the expectation that they might have some unique wisdom, but they are too hard to understand for me There are too many poorly defined terms like being , the Way , etc.In fact, I felt like much of either of the two ancient texts in this book were alluding to philosophical issues in a very crude way, philsophical issues that I am already familiar with So these texts are only useful to me as a historical curiosity I have realized from reading this book that I am no longer interested in ancient literature, because whatever wisdom they happen to have can be found succinctly in modern literature and philosophy.I m sure I will go back to this book again, however, because I also view it as a kind of puzzle.


  3. says:

    This philosophy of Taoism, at least from my understanding, can be summed up very simply Complete and absolute indifference One should not care about anything One should simply be like a leaf in the wind and go where it is taken This translastion seems to convey that clearly enough without losing any of the mysticism that these texts are known for That s all I have to say I suppose.


  4. says:

    A classic, but clearly you have to be in the mood for this sort of thing somewhat for the Tao Te Ching, but especially for the Chuang tzu I would recommend that one read this before reading too deeply of Woody Allen otherwise you spend all your time waiting for the twist An example A man who raised monkeys said he would give them three chestnuts in the morning and four in the evening The monkeys all became angry at this Then the man said instead he would give them four in the morning and three in the evening Now all the monkeys were happy I kept waiting for Modern scholars have suggested a better translation to be A man who raised monkeys said he would give them three chestnuts in the morning and four in the evening The monkeys made a counter offer of two chestnuts in the morning, and a banana blancmange at lunch They settled upon pecan waffles for breakfast, and agreed that they would send out for sarneys at tea time Some of this is, frankly, nonsensical The word therefore often appears, when nothing that came before does the slightest to support the conclusion or moral I suppose, for saying this, I am as the marsh quail, rather than the 3000 mile wide bird with the orange Chevette that can drive 40,000KPH.Just remember, governing a large nation is like cooking little fish they cook quickly, but there are lots of bones.


  5. says:

    It s a translation of the Tao Te Ching plus Chuang Tzu, and it s not completely incompetent, so perhaps it deserves than one star On the other hand, having read probably a couple dozen different translations of the Tao Te Ching, the political and ethical bias Cleary brings to this version is blatant and jarring, which inclines me to give it no than one star anyway It might be interesting to read just to see what it has to say about Cleary s perspective on the Tao, but if what you re really looking for is the Tao Te Ching and Chuang Tzu you should look elsewhere.


  6. says:

    Combines the verses of the Tao de Ching with writings attributed to Chuang Tzu I prefer the translation of the Tao that I have been reading since the 1980 s The one by Mitchell that I have reviewed on GoodReads I found the writing to be obtuse and not all that interesting or enlightening The best part of the book was the historical background on the Tao and its relationship with Buddhism and other ancient philosophies, a small chapter at the back of the book.


  7. says:

    Cleary is the preeminent translator of Chinese thought He does a predictably excellent job making this classic retain the musical reading style of the original Chinese, as well as convey the simple, yet profound, philosophy.


  8. says:

    This book is great as it has both the Tao Te Ching and the teachings of Chuang Tzu in the same publication If you re interested in learning about Tao or exploring it for the first time, this would be a book I would recommend.


  9. says:

    Lots of great wisdom here Especially for the Western mind.


  10. says:

    This has the most clear and understandable English translation of Tao te Ching that I ve read It also includes Chuang tzu, which can be hard to find.