One problem any English
of the Tao
Te Ching will come across is that of translation
. Any time the original Chinese
is translated, its meaning will change somewhat, given that different languages subdivide
the semantic space
in different ways. Thus, it's a very good idea to read multiple
translations—or, even better, learn Chinese. However, for those of us who are too lazy
to learn Chinese and too poor
to buy a million books
with different translations, there is a resource
! Or, rather, two resources, to be precise.
One can read the Tao Te Ching in the original Chinese (in Chinese characters or Pinyin (Mandarin) romanization), in seventeen English translations, and in one German translation, at edepot. Another neat feature is the ability to view two translations at once and compare. The address is as follows:
One can also find the original Chinese and ten English translations at the "Comparative Tao" site. As the name implies, it is also a site that allows you to view two translations at once, in order to compare. The address is:
Particularly amusing at the Comparative Tao site is the "Jesse Garon" translation. While it's damn funny, it also is a very accessible translation. It includes such gems as the following:
If you can talk about it,
it ain't Tao.
If it's got a name,
it's just another thing.
Tao doesn't have a name.
Names are for ordinary stuff.
Stop wanting stuff. It keeps you from seeing what's real.
When you want stuff, all you see are things.