By Richard Bertschinger
The Tao-te Ching, written in China about 200 BCE, is preserved in some eighty-one chapters, a blend of folk-beliefs, homely wisdom and religious beliefs which pervade old China. It is divided into two halves – the first concerned with the Tao, Way or Path, the second describing Te, inner virtue, power or self-esteem. Tradition states that Lao Tzu wrote this book in a single night, as he was passing through the mountains to the West, disgusted at the violence and extravagances of his world. It advocates quietism and inner radiance of spirit, a cultivated harmony and intimacy with nature, and reverence for the yielding feminine principle. Less orthodox than Buddhism, more tolerant than Confucianism, its ideas of interconnectivity, peaceful co-existence and self-responsibility are surprisingly recognized as the hallmark of modern physics and a new world view. At barely 5000 words, its influence has been quite disproportionate to its length. Richard has worked from the original Chinese commentaries to construct this new translation.