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76 of 78 people found the following review helpful
on 3 November 1998
When my wife Sandy was diagnosed with terminal cancer, this is the ONE book she kept nearby at home and in the hospital. She found great comfort in it words and wisdom.
When she died I picked it up and began to read. Several passages fell right open (8 & 16). These were the passages that she must have been reading the most. So I read those passages at her funeral. I'm still reading this book and finding something new with each reading. Even if a passage may not make sense on the first or second reading, it may become clear by the fifth or sixth. Or maybe it will take years.
Sandy was a poet and teacher who studied many translations of the Tao, but this was her favorite. It may not be the most literal translation, but it surely is the most poetic. If this translation was good enough for her, then it's good enough for me.
In fact, this book is so good, I've given away at least 8 copies in the two months since her death. This book has helped me deal with and survive the most difficult time in my life. I'm much wiser and more open having read this book. My friends to whom I've given copies agree and are sharing it with their friends.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 20 December 1997
I am 14 years old and I am new to Taoism. I have read this book and it has given me a new philosophy on life. I have read other interpretations and translations of the Tao te Ching and this is easiest to understand. That is especially good for young people like me. I understand the way life works and the Way itself much better. I hope to be a taoist all my life and be very experienced and knowledgable. I am also interested in I-Ching, Tarot, runecraft (runes), and symbolism.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 5 March 1999
Mitchell's work is not for purists of textual criticism or hermeneutics. Literal translations of ancient documents tend to be dry and awkward. Mitchell's loose paraphrase and notes are refreshing and agreeable. The spirit of this work is both heartfelt and delightful. It is a joy to read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 22 December 1997
Whether this is an academically accurate interpretation of Taoism I don't know. I know that this book speaks to me. Mitchell time and again is able to write a phrase that stimulates something in me that I can't put into words. His notes are as much part of the translation as the regular text. I made a photocopy of them, reduced them and pasted them on the page of text they referred to. I can't recommed his book to highly.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 21 November 1998
to the very heart of the Way. When a person sets up a premise for a creation, in my opinion he may truly only be evaluated on how closely he has come to his mission. I have 4 versions of the Tao te Ching. Mitchell uses his ability to craft a piece of work using the Tao te Ching as his guideline. He makes it clear from the get go what his intentions are. Many have missed the point to criticize the work on the pros and cons of it's translation. The merit of the work is in the effectiveness of bringing a person to the Way in the simplest strokes. His gift is to bring the work alive in a way that touches the emotions as well as the mind. He inspires us because of his ability to reach us and bring us closer to our true nature. In many translations the direct or closest literal translation does not meet the western individual where we can A) understand it and B) assimilate it into our daily lives. His work reaches those places. Perhaps as a literal translation of the original it does not hold up to scrutiny, and those critics can have that one and walk proudly into the sunset saying, "Well I was RIGHT about that one." The Tao is not about being right, it's about who and what we are. The Tao is a spiritual philosophy meant to be integrated into daily life, not a quest for some clinical academic pontification of words and ideas. The Tao is a living breathing way of awareness and conduct and it cannot be contained in even the most brilliant of translations. The very first lines of the first poem tells you that (in anyone's translation). If a piece of art, writing or performance touches you to the core of your being then all criticism is really obsolete. Stephen Mitchell's book is a work of amazing beauty, whatever it lacks in artistry and cultural complexity, and for me it lacks none, it makes up for in it's honest and direct route to the spirit. Anyone would be making a great mistake not to have this "interpolation" in their collection of the Tao te Ching
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 12 April 2008
The Tao has always been one of my favourites. Never to be flipped through like a novel but a page at a time and some inner contemplation. A quiet place indoors or outdoors with a bit of sunshine and nature at your feet [no motorway sounds]. I, like some other purchasers, have given this book to many as a gift and some of these in turn have imitated and passed on the gift therein. I like this flowing translation and have read a couple of others - some of whom like to stick closer to the literal translation. The deviation from the literal to this edition is carried out with the hand and mind of a master who exhibits a true understanding of the way.

I always wanted a hardcover copy of this book and purchased this one. Sorry but I do have one problem with this and that is - the paper quality and the book binding does let it down but - hey if this is the only criticism I have then yippee. If you think about it maybe printing onto recycled paper is the ONLY way to go with this masterpiece! Enjoy over and over and over and drive yourself crazy when you mislay your copy or lose friends by lending and not getting it back ! If they are indeed a true friend buy them their own copy ! They'll love you forever !

Highly recommended !
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 26 June 2012
I think this translation of the Tao is fantastic
To me, it is very close to the Chinese symbols and lanugage mda-up of drawings
The fact that the Mother in the text is a She is also, to me, very accurate
It is a very imaged translation and a carefully executed job
The introduction is lovely too and I like the illustrations
Well done Arcturus Publishing
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 28 January 1999
Between the pages of are rare treasures indeed. The original text of the Tao could never be translated directly to English without sacrificing it's inherent simplicity; Mitchell accomplishes this impossible task with ease. While other translations of this work appeal to the high intellect -- and as such have different merit -- this one speaks (quite simply) to the soul.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 9 December 1998
Stephen Mitchell succeeds in bringing the words of Lao Tse to life better than any other author I have read. It is probably not the most accurate translation word for word , but the liberties that he has taken in translating one of the best collections of wisdom is obviously inspired. Where other interpretations leave the reader hung out to dry on some of the passages , this book presents each one in a plausible way that makes sense in present day english. I recommend it to anyone , anyone at all , you can only benefit from reading this book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 25 August 2010
The soul of Chinese literature is poetry: from oldest "Book of Odes" to TangShu (Tang poetry) to SongZu (Song dynasty poetry) to YungQu (Yung dynasty poetry) . Underneath this glorious landscape were Lao Tzu's (551 B.C.) influences running through gem-like poems by Wang Wei, Li Po, Mon Ho Jung(701-761) and reached the sea of Japanese Haiku poets, Basho, Buson and Issa(1763-1827). It is obviously the prerequisite read for anyone who wants to understand Chinese culture and philosophies of Zen. Lao Tzu's impact goes further beyond that: as the "most widely translated book in world literature, after the bible," TAO TE CHING finds religious and political leaders, business owners and enlightened masters, readers and writers alike worldwide, return to the source of his words and find its use inexhaustible.

In certain times of ancient Chinese history, TAO TE CHING was reserved for emperors and rulers, while commoners were instructed to study Confucius and Mencius. This is because Lao Tzu's spiritual scripture is liberating and best suited for people ready to unlearn what they learned, let go of their egos and emptied their minds from the world of experience for the being of higher innocence. Thus Lao Tzu teaches truth through words of paradox:

All streams flow to the sea
because it is lower than they are.
Humility gives it its power. (66)

In 81 brief chapters that contains a mere 5000 Chinese words, Tao Te Ching "looks at the basic predicament of being alive and gives advice that imparts balance and perspective, a serene and generous spirit (Book cover). Mr. Mitchell interprets Lao Tzu, the erudite librarian and eminent scholar in his own time correctly when he writes, "it's clear from his teachings that he deeply cared about society, if society means the welfare of one's fellow human beings; his book is, among other things, a treatise on the art of government, whether of a country or of a child." The reactions upon reading Lao Tzu's words range from "babbling" to "lofty" but actually his teaching couldn't be easier:

I have just three things to teach:
simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures. (67)

TAO TE CHING in its original Chinese text is referred to as "one of the wonders of the world". Every word written by Lao Tzu is a microcosmic image of macrocosmic world, complete with sound, tone, shape, rhythm symmetry and metaphoric resonance. It is the Chinese written characters that makes TAO TE CHING (and Chinese Poetry) an Art of art's kind. Through translation, it is all lost. What can be saved is the philosophical wisdom of Lao Tzu and Mr. Stephen Mitchell, through his own genius had masterfully rendered Tao Te Ching into English poetry with brilliance. It takes a poet and a scholar to translate another. If Lao Tzu is the most-read Chinese philosopher in America today, we have Mr. Mitchell's New English Version to thank for. While Mr. Mitchell's translation is the best place to start, other works such as Dr. Wu's translation that has original Chinese text in it are also recommended. They are puzzle pieces for a better glimpse of the continent of the Way. But as proverb goes, "don't look at the hand that points to the moon. Look at the moon." Ultimately, we should all be looking at the truth that Lao Tzu is pointing to within us, be it English or Chinese.
(This text refers to the Hardcover edition.)

Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching (Asian Institute Translations, No 1)
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