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Dao De Jing
Dao De Jing
Dao De Jing
Audiobook1 hour

Dao De Jing

Written by Laozi

Narrated by Albert A. Anderson

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

4/5

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About this audiobook

The Dao De Jing exists on the border between poetry and philosophy, embracing both mythos and logos. Its poetic form can stand alone, but it is enriched when its timeless ideas are analyzed and explained through careful scholarship. For example: “He who knows others is knowledgeable. He who knows himself is wise.” These words resemble Socrates’ account of his own quest in Plato’s Apology. Ancient philosophy, both in China and in Greece, places self-knowledge at the center of the search for wisdom. Contemporary philosophers are often misled about this way of thinking, because the self has been detached from external things and separated from nature and society. The wisdom of China and of Europe unites human existence and nature.
LanguageEnglish
Release dateJan 1, 2010
ISBN9781887250719
Author

Laozi

Laozi was a Chinese philosopher and author commonly understood to have lived in the 6th century BC, although the time of his life is much disputed, and he has become as much a legend as a historical figure. Traditionally credited as the author of The Book of Tao, also known as The Tao Te Ching and The Tao and Its Characteristics, he is regarded as the father of Taoism and one of the most universally influential figures in Chinese culture.

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Rating: 4.014338385907415 out of 5 stars
4/5

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  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    As D.C. Lau points out in his highly readable introduction to this Penguin Classics edition, it is highly unlikely that Lao Tzu was an acutal person, despite stories of Confucius once going to see him. Instead, the contents of the Tao Te Ching seem to be a distillation and compilation of early Daoist thought. Like the Analects of Confucius, there are passages that are corrupted and whose meaning is either unfathomable or in dispute. There are also certain ideas that are repeated in nearly identical phrases in different parts of this very short work. Compared to the Analects of Confucius, this is a shorter, easier read, but like that work, I’m sure it benefits from reading in multiple translations and from reading more about it—not just of it. Since the Teaching Company doesn’t have a course on this book as they do for the Analects, I’ll just have to rely more on my own first impressions. Daoist philosophy (or Taoist, if you want to use the old spelling—but Daoist is how you pronounce it) is intriguing because it seems to rely on not taking action rather than on actually doing anything. It is full of things such as, “He who speaks doesn’t know.” And “He who knows doesn’t speak.” You’ll be nodding your head at things like that, comparing them to your own life experience. Putting such ideas into practice, however, seems problematic. No wonder some famous Daoists were monks. I’m not sure how following the precepts in this book would work in most people’s lives, unlike, for example, applying a few Buddhist tenets. I’m sure they wouldn’t fly at my house when it’s time to wash the dishes. But I’m trivializing things here. Just trying to wrap your mind around these concepts and spending a while contemplating them is beneficial. We do, for instance, act far more often than we should. How many times can we think of when not doing something would have served us better? But we just felt compelled to act, since that seems to be part of our human nature. Not to mention being easier to explain to your friends if your act goes wrong. I’m still trivializing, I guess. I highly recommend reading this well-done translation and its commentary. There are, for instance, a lot of ebooks available that give you an old translation of this work—which may be a fine translation for all I know—but without some context, you will lose much of the pleasure of reading. People who write books with titles that include “before you die” in them should immediately die themselves before they can write more such books. But if you’re an intelligent person, and if you have a little time to spare and an interest in philosophy, give this a try and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    This is one of those quick to read, but long to digest books. It was interesting and will take more than one reading to feel more comfortable with.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    From the book description: Drawing on meticulous study of multiple sources, this fresh but authoritative reading of Lao Tsu's timeless classic combines the poetry of the Tao Te Ching with a wealth of additional material: an introduction to the enigmatic Lao Tsu and his times; a discussion of the many challenges facing the translator; 81 illustrative Chinese characters/phrases, selected to highlight key themes in each chapter; separate commentary and inspirational quotes, as well as room for you to record your own impressions, section by section.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Good visuals for contemplation
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Laozi's set of 81 brief chapters sets forth the philosophy of Taoism. The author cautions the reader that words alone cannot faithfully describe his subject, the Tao or the way of the universe, which in our time has led some to dismiss this perspective due to its ambiguity. Enigmas and apparent contradictions appear frequently, which compelled me to pause to contemplate what Laozi was trying to convey. The necessity of pausing and reflecting makes reading this material fulfilling, especially when I felt I moved closer to understanding.I found the three jewels of Taoism appealing: Compassion, frugality (also translated as restraint and moderation), and humility (or not seeking to be first). Laozi is also persuasive in advocating selective gradual change rather than confrontation.This book is not for the been-there-done-that crowd, who see the ideal life as a experience of episodes of serial consumption. Instead the truths here are intended to be revealed though a combination of experience and contemplation. Some have wisely recommended memorizing some of the chapters, allowing the enigmas and puzzles to remain with us and perhaps to be solved later on with the help of experiential and contextual diversity. The edition I read was translated by Thomas H. Miles and his students. It served my purpose well, though at times I would have appreciated some additional commentary to supplement the helpful existing guidance. Miles' translation also has some useful introductory material in which key terms are defined, insofar as that is possible within Taoism. I intend to read other translations to get a better idea of the range of interpretations.