History and Content of Tao-te ching
Tao-te ching is the most famous and translated work from the Taoist inheritance. Its traditional author, Lao-tzu, is considered to be the father of Taoism. Even in ancient China his work enjoyed a great popularity and was glossed both by Taoists and Confucians.
Lao-tzu would have composed this work by the request of Yin Hsi, the Guardian of the pass, while he began his wandering towards West.
The book consists of 81 short chapters among which 37 form the first part - the Classic of the Way (Tao) -, and the next 44 form the Classic of Te ("te" is a word translated by James Legge in relation with "Tao" as "characteristics", the entire title of the book would be The Classic about Tao and its Characteristics).
This division in chapters is considered to be the result of the remarks of mysterious Ho-shang kung (Han dynasty).
The philosophy of the book focuses on concepts like: Tao, Te, wu (emptiness), wu-wei (nondoing) and fu (return).
In short, concerning the Taoist sage, he should follow the Tao (or unite with it) by following its course (or emulating its conduct). In this respect, he must achieve wu and practice nondoing (wu-wei). The same is proposed to the political rulers in respect to their duties.
The second part of the book, which insists on the method of governing, seems to be compiled by the Confucians since Taoists didn't bother too much with this topic.
=> See also:
- Comments by Jhian - chap. 1 | chap. 2 | chap. 3 | chap. 12 | chap.18 | chap. 60
-English version by James Legge
- More Tao-te ching resources
-Jesus and Tao-te ching (paper)
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