This is a full gender-neutral translation of the Tao te Ching with commentary by a contemporary spiritual teacher and the head of the Wisdom Path Community. This is the second in a series of books on human potential and personal development, titled. “The Teachings of Lewis Harrison.” This version of the Tao te Ching that is presented here is drawn from many previous published translations of the work. In my five decades as a meditation student and mentor to others and my recent years serving as the senior teacher of the Wisdom Path Community, I have always been committed to sharing and “paying it forward”.
In this long process I have read many different versions of the Tao te Ching, each version with its own strengths and weaknesses. The Tao te Ching was first written in classic Chinese, a language that few understand today. Thus it is hard to know definitively what was actually said and when it was said. The title of the work “Tao te Ching” is generally translated to mean “The Book of the Way and its Virtue”. However, according to R.B. Blakney’s respected translation, this is an awkward explanation of the “characters” and pictogrpahs since the Chinese do not use the word “way” or “virtue” in the same way that a Westerner would. Most seekers and experts on classic Chinese though might agree that the term “Tao,” rather than being just a Chinese word for “path” or “way” could more accurately describe the divine presence as the source and actualization of all life and existence. A Westerner might choose to simplify it by saying “God” but students of mystic Taoism do not attempt to apply the types of forms, constructs and physical qualities that the great “Western religions” apply to the concept of God.
It is this confusion of even the most basic aspects of the work, and its name, that makes the reading of the Tao te Ching a challenge for many. Even so the very process of reading each sentence of the Tao te Ching can be an enlivening experience. Since we cannot expect a high degree of cohesion in the thought, the most sensible way of giving an account of it is to deal with the various key concepts, and then relate them to each other wherever possible.
The Tao te Ching should not be treated as a religious text, in the way that the Holy Bible, or the Holy Koran are. The Tao te Ching is more a road map for the seeker of profound wisdom. Thus much of what was previously unclear, inaccessible, confusing or incomprehensible, becomes immediately lucid and is enlivening to read. In the end, it is for the seeker to embrace the truth here more than anything else. By seeing key passages of the text in a spiritual rather than philosophical context, one can get the true meaning of what is being said.
In reading the writings of the great Taoist masters, particularly Lao Tzu, one immediately senses that the person of profound wisdom expresses what they know- not from intellect, but rather based on spiritual insights derived from their mystic experiences. This cannot be done from the studying of books. Throughout the Tao te Ching, Lao Tzu expresses the idea that the Tao cannot be known in words, and cannot be experienced or expressed by the intellect. It can only be reflected as an authentic experience of the human spirit. For the shaman and mystically oriented student this is an extremely accurate presentation true to Lao Tzu’s intentions.