Tao Te Ching: A Book about the Way and the Power of the Way by Ursula K. Le Guin

LaoTzu-TaoTeChing-Ursula-Le-GuinThe depth within the simplicity of Ursula K. Le Guin’s book Tao Te Ching: A Book about the Way and the Power of the Way is inspiring.

The Tao Te Ching is an ancient Chinese writing by Lao Tzu consisting of 81 very short chapters (typically one-page each and sometimes as short as a paragraph). Ursula makes the clear distinction that this book is her rendition of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching and not a translation. While the book is short in length, the thinking and reflection you may find in it is endless.

While MANY words, lines, and paragraphs impacted me, here are just 14:

  • “To give birth, to nourish, to bear and not to own, to act and not lay claim, to lead and not to rule: this is mysterious power.”
  • “Anyone who doesn’t respect a teacher or cherish a student may be clever, but has gone astray.”
  • “So the wise soul keeps away from the extremes, excess, and extravagance.”
  • “Knowing other people is intelligence, knowing yourself is wisdom. Overcoming others takes strength, overcoming yourself takes greatness. Contentment is wealth. Boldly pushing forward takes resolution. Staying put keeps you in position. To live till you die is to live long enough.”
  • “In not wanting is stillness.”
  • “Because there is no where in you for death to enter”
  • “Lie low to be on top, be on top to lie low.”
  • “Study the hard while it’s easy. Do big things while they’re small. The hardest jobs in the world start out easy, the great affairs of the world start small. So the wise soul, by never dealing with great things, gets great things done.
  • “The tree you can’t reach your arms around grew from a tiny seedling. The nine-story tower rises from a heap of clay. The ten-thousand-mile journey begins beneath your foot.
  • “Mind the end as the beginning, then it won’t go wrong. That’s why the wise want not to want, care nothing for hard-won treasures, learn not to be learned, turn back to what people overlooked.”
  • “I have three treasures. I keep and treasure them. The first, mercy, the second, moderation, the third, modesty. If you’re merciful, you can be brave, if your moderate you can be generous, and if you don’t presume to lead you can lead the high and mighty.”
  • “The best captain doesn’t rush in front. The fiercest fighter doesn’t bluster. The big winner isn’t competing. The best boss takes a low footing. This is the power of noncompetition.”
  • “So hardness and stiffness go with death; tenderness, softness go with life.”
  • “Nothing in the world is as soft, as weak, as water; nothing else can wear away the hard, the strong, and remain unaltered. Soft overcomes hard, weak overcomes strong. Everybody knows it, nobody uses the knowledge.”

Consider treating yourself to this wonderful gift!!

Have you read any renditions or translations of Tao Te Ching? If so, what were your reactions and thoughts? Please share in the Comments section below.