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The Taoist Classics: v.1: The Collected Translations of Thomas Cleary: Vol 1 (Taoist Classics (Shambhala)) [Paperback]

Thomas Cleary
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

1 Mar 2003 Taoist Classics (Shambhala) (Book 1)
This collection of translated texts includes:

   •  Tao Te Ching: Cleary's original translations of the great classic of Taoism, accompanied by his commentary illuminating the text and its context.
   •  Chuang-tzu: The "Inner Teachings" of a widely influential compendium of wisdom stories, fables, and anecdotes.
   •  Wen-tzu: Understanding the Mysteries: Another core text of Chinese Taoism, containing teachings also attributed to the author of the Tao Te Ching.
   •  The Book of Leadership and Strategy: Lessons of the Chinese Masters: One of the great Chinese teachings on the subtle arts of management and leadership at all levels.
   •  Sex, Health, and Long Life: Manuals of Taoist Practice: The techniques contained in these five texts reveal the transformative influence sex can have when wisely practiced.

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The Taoist Classics: v.1: The Collected Translations of Thomas Cleary: Vol 1 (Taoist Classics (Shambhala)) + The Taoist Classics: v.2: The Collected Translations of Thomas Cleary: Vol 2 (Taoist Classics (Shambhala)) + The Taoist Classics: v.3: The Collected Translations of Thomas Cleary: Vol 3 (Taoist Classics (Shambhala))
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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications Inc; 1 edition (1 Mar 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570629056
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570629051
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.2 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 599,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All good stuff! 22 May 2001
By A Customer
Well, here we have the Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, and Wen Tzu all in the same volume, along with two other interesting little numbers.
What can I say? They're classics. They're translated by Cleary. They're bound up in a sturdy hardback.
All of which means it's probably worth having, even if you already have them in the (by now) tattered paperback format.
My only quibble is the price - a little expensive for poor wayward Daoists - but it's a nice book!
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
41 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensitive, contemporary feel 20 Dec 1999
By Damian Lessman - Published on Amazon.com
Many translations of the Tao Te Ching and Chuang Tzu are merely stylized evocations of religious philosophy. However, Cleary's profound understanding of the texts and his translatory genius in itself is an affirmation of the Taoist doctrine: strive for simplicity and you shall reach profundity. This is a translation which can be applied to everyday situations and yet does not shirk from metaphysics.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bargain at twice the price 15 Mar 2010
By Mike - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is probably the best value in the recent Cleary Collected Volumes for someone interested in Eastern Philosophy (especially Taoism) or even philosophy in general, given how accessible it is. A better title would have been "Sourcebook in Taoist Philosophy". That's really what it is.

The only major Taoist texts of particular interest to Westerners that Cleary translated but not in this volume are The Art of War(debatably more a book by a Taoist than about Taoism) and "Secret of the Golden Flower" (popularized in the West by Jung's commentary and foreword to an edition by another translator - The Secret of the Golden Flower: A Chinese Book of Life). Conveniently, "Secret of the Golden Flower" is available in theThe Taoist Classics: The Collected Translations of Thomas Cleary, Vol. 3, also recommended (though the selections in that volume are significantly narrower in scope than this one and you may want to review it first

So in this volume you recieve Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu (most of it, somewhat abridged), and the Wen Tzu (worth the price of the set since this is the only major translation I'm aware of), The Book of leadership and Strategy (which is composed of excerpts from the Huainanzi), and Sex, Health and Long Life (a collection of 5 texts from the Mawangdui finds of 1973-74). The first 3 are the nuts and bolts of Taoism. The first two are philosophical classics. The Wen-tzu is considered a classic of Taoism and has been quite influential in Chinese thought. Its synthesis of Taoism, Confucianism and Legalism is of considerable interest as it essentially concretizes Taoism into practice. The last two books in the volume may interest those with more specific interests.

As usual for Cleary, the footnotes and scholarly apparatus are fairly terrible and some of Cleary's comments in the Tao te Ching seem to say more about his brand of secular humanism than Taoism, but it doesn't matter all that much. Unlike the major Buddhist texts in another volume I reviewed, the major Taoists wrote in an extremely clear and straight-forward way, obviating the need for much of a scholarly apparatus - and making the absence of one borderline irrelevant.

I have some minor caveats about the translations. The translations are fairly good but regarding the specific texts - there are superior translations avaliable for most of them. I'd say The Book of Chuang Tzu (Penguin Classics) is significantly superior since the Chuang Tzu here is abridged. At times Cleary seems to gloss the rampant humor in Chuang Tzu, too. His translation is somewhat overly literal and a tad awkward. I tend to prefer other translations of the Tao Te Ching but this one is quite good. There's a Huainanzi translation entitled The Huainanzi: A Guide to the Theory and Practice of Government in Early Han China (Translations from the Asian Classics) coming out at the end of the month(Major, Queen, Meyer, Roth) which is likely quite superior, but I haven't had the chance to read a copy. At $70 and a 1000 pages, I probably won't purchase it either. I've heard good things about it, though.

In short, an unqualified recommendation as an introductory and reference volume. For those interested in Taoism, the Wen-Tzu alone is worth the price of the volume. As usual with Cleary though, you may find it preferable to use other volumes for scholarship.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Study and cultivate your life with this guidance 8 Mar 2010
By R. Lindsay - Published on Amazon.com
A very rewarding book which I have studied and enjoyed for years now!

With a useful commentary and introduction, this volume provides *the* most useful original sources for Tao philosophy: The Tao Te Ching, the Chuang-tzu and the Wen-tzu (plus 2 other books)in one volume.

These books are spiritual food and clarifying guidance to those who study them.

Studying these , and making extensive notes all over my copy has certainly influenced, changed, and guided me in positive ways. As I read I also receive insights into Tao practices.

For those who are open to a Taoist viewpoint I can highly recommend this volume.
The books all have their particular style and appeal, and they give profound insights into human nature, society, the natural world and the processes of life. Slowly but surely altering your outlook and values, and guiding you on your way.

However the insights gained here are not just for intellectual stimulation.

Couple your study with Chi Gong (or similar practices) and meditation, and you may be drawn into a process which changes and renews you within.

(NB: To add warmth, simplicity and humour to your impressions of Taoism, I also highly recommend viewing the cartoon DVD's and books on Laozi and Zhuangzi by Taiwanese cartoonist Tsai Chih Chung).
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential works, I will keep forever! 21 Jan 2013
By Taiji on Maui - Published on Amazon.com
I am a Taoist... I teach Qigong Taiji, meditation and spiritual alchemy, I am also a minimalist, I gave away almost every book I have ever read...But not these!
You cannot beat these books! Cleary is amazing! Like another reviewer stated, there are a lot of stylized, paraphrased books out there, like Mitchell, and I love them, but if you want a source book these are for you!

We all need a literal translation around to compare with these newer versions just to keep some perspective. Cleary is a little difficult to read as he will force you to expand you vocabulary of english to match the very descriptive Chinese. I feel that is a good thing, you are reading these to learn after all. The more simplified versions of works like Tao Te Ching are more for entertainment and sharing concepts with beginners; these books are full of pithy in depth reality and wonderful commentary and historical references.

I write in pencil within, I don't care these are my bibles! I devour Taoist literature, if you are that kind or student of the Way then good for you! Read all the different versions of Tao Te Ching (I have read at least ten) and then read the "gold standard" of translations. ( I also recommend Jonathan Starr's "Verbatim Addition" for this)

I have the whole set in hardcover, and they are the best thing going for serious students of the Way. If I could only keep a few books these would be the ones I would keep; I have read them over and over many times.
5.0 out of 5 stars A great anthology! 10 July 2014
By thanson02 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This text is a good and easy read with historical explanations about the writers and the culture they came from. Great product!
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