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Free Book: Tao Te Ching 道德經 (English + Chinese) by Lao Tzu 老子: Best translation found!

The Tao Te Ching, Daodejing, or Dao De Jing 道德經 

So Click on the Image to Get your Free PDF e-book of The Tao!

Click2Download Free Tao e-book!

I was asked by someone from my Goodread networks for the Best translation of Tao Te Ching book he could buy! I looked around and realise the best version is a Free PDF I found done by Lok San Ho in Hong Kong because it harnassed the fact that most Hong Kong Chinese are brought up Bilingual with English and Classical Chinese (Cantonese) as our mother tongues.

What is Tao Te Ching?

The text is fundamental to both philosophical and religious Taoism (Daojia, Chinese: 道家, Pinyin: Dàojiā; Daojiao, Chinese: 道教, Pinyin: Dàojiào) and strongly influenced other schools, such as Legalism, Confucianism and Chinese Buddhism, which when first introduced into China was largely interpreted through the use of Daoist words and concepts. Many Chinese artists, including poets, painters, calligraphers, and even gardeners have used the Daodejing as a source of inspiration. Its influence has also spread widely outside East Asia, and is amongst the most translated works in world literature.

The metaphysical nature of Tao Te Ching also influenced many Modernist Science into discovering what we would loosely describe as the beginning of Particle theories and a fore-runner to Einstein’s Thoeries of Quantum Mechanics.

Science-Philosophy-Faith to an Educated Ancient person were not different things…it is only in the less educated circles that see these things dualistically, mostly due to poor education systems that emphasized passing exams and rote-learning instead of True Knowledge and Wisdom.

19 comments on “Free Book: Tao Te Ching 道德經 (English + Chinese) by Lao Tzu 老子: Best translation found!

  1. victor Lvarca
    September 27, 2019

    Hello cecilia, nice, excellent job, old “in time” chinese is hard to translate, as meanings have change with this time… thanks…

    • ceciliawyu
      September 29, 2019

      Thanks. But “old” chinese is just Classic Chinese….quite frankly the chinese you think is modern chinese is about 60yrs old simplified and made up by an idiot man who didn’t really speak classic after he starved 60million people to death under the communist regime. And he bookburned a lot of rare copies of the Tao Te Ching. So sad! 😦 Stupid evil man Mao.

  2. Mike
    August 24, 2017

    Hi Cecilia,

    I have done a brand new English version of the Tao De Ching. My aim was not a line by line translation, but to render Lao-Tzu in the clearest, most lucid English as possible. As part of my research, I read hundreds of Chinese commentaries, which were translated into English and thousands of translated poems. By deciphering the symbolic content of the Old Master’s words, I created a text, which I believe is the clearest written in the English language up to date.

    I believe I have unlocked the secret and esoteric content of Lao-Tzu’s classic and magisterial text.

    The 81 poems are finished, though I am still working on the explanatory chapters to go in the book. These poems are longer than the originals, because I break down the symbolic content, informing the reader of the spiritual instruction and frame of mind Lao-Tzu intends the reader to adopt.

    I explain the meaning behind this master’s aphorisms, which is crucial to unlocking the spiritual import of this text (especially, in the English language). Otherwise, you have a profound saying that remains inaccessible to the Western reader. No translation (up until now that is) has managed to break down this barrier. The barrier is neither lexical nor linguistic but semantic. Why so? Because Lao-Tzu was an esoteric writer and his writings encrypt deep secrets – because the whole premise behind his undertaking is that the Tao is indescribable; literally, it is beyond the Human mind. We therefore, need a new ‘type’ of language to describe it.

    In the same way Christ abandoned conventional language for the parable, Lao-Tzu abandons the vernacular for the aphorism, choosing instead, to deploy powerful symbols that illuminate his maxims. Both teachers had the same project in mind – the spiritual awakening and illumination of their disciples. Christ described it as the ‘kingdom of Heaven within’, Lao-Tzu, simply called it ‘tranquillity’; whereby, he could access the ‘universal’ perfection of his own being (what he termed in his lexicon ‘dark virtue’).

    Many English versions translate the mind but not the ‘heart’ of this profound master. In this, they fail to miss the mark.

    I am a poet, so I felt I was a good person to have a go at this project. Hsu Young Chang, identified 28 different types of rhyme in Lao-Tzu’s text. In my version, I went for no ‘formal’ rhyme scheme, but I employ occasionally, light, assonant, consonant rhymes to illuminate the profundity of the text.

    Most of my version is written in a rhythmical, non-formal free verse – though the piece is both musical and poetical in its construction and meter. This was intended, after all, not only is the ‘Tao Te Ching’ a philosophical treatise, but it is also a classical poem, needing to be treat as such in its adaptation (something many translators conveniently forget in their arid and lifeless versions of this ancient text).

    I feel my version, gives Lao-Tzu the gravitas (at least in the English language) that he deserves as a spiritual master, without sounding contrived or too formal. I also use words that the English speaking people understand in order to translate his philosophical system into an easy up to date late language.

    That said, this version is written in modern, easy to understand English, which is so important, adding hopefully, a new type of historical text – a poem that contains its own commentary – elucidating with clarity the subtlety and profundity of this deep thinker, as well as clarifying his metaphysics for the English speaking world.

    I have penetrated his deepest insights and laid them bare for the Western world to contemplate and ponder upon. Such an undertaking is of benefit to all the English speaking peoples of the world, and can be helpful to either religiously or secularly inclined people. The Tao Te Ching is a blueprint for enlightenment – a roadmap for self-realization. It is a key text and if understood properly can trigger awakening in its reader.

    Because this book will be published, I have no wish for its contents to be leaked onto the web, but I am looking for a Chinese person to write an enthusiastic foreword for me.

    Do you know anyone that would like to volunteer?

    Hope you are well. This is a nice site – good work Cecilia.


    • ceciliawyu
      August 24, 2017

      Hi Mike I do not know what your chinese standard is like…however I feel obliged to point out to you that Tao Te Ching was written in a Southern Dialectic and Grammatical ancient chinese that is most akin to today’s Cantonese dialect which has 16 tones…not the 4 tones of Mandarin.

      So. Given the Hong Kong Uni translation is also using the same 16 tonal spoken dialects and Tao Te Ching is first and foremost a spoken text….are you sure you are using the right spoken form of chinese to translate?

      Chang’s translation is correct in the 28 different types of rhyme. It is the rudimentary poetic structure of all ancient chinese poetic works….most of us are taught them via dulian practices at a very young age (like starting at 2 yrs old in my case) to be considered an anciently educated chinese…..

      So I think perhaps it is important to re examine your omissions of the 28 types of classical chinese ryhmes….without it… are kind of not really translating chinese.

      Having said that….goodluck.

      As the Tao says: “If it is easily structured and identified…it is not the essence of True Tao….” 🤗

      Enjoy your translation journey!

      Best wishes

      • Mike
        August 25, 2017

        Hi – the book I am writing is more of an ‘adaptation’ than a ‘true’ translation. The purpose of it is as a ‘stepping stone’ to the ideas contained in Lao-Tzu’s,Tao Te Ching. You might say it is a complimentary text adding to the versions and translations already on the market.

        In English the correct academic term for such a project is a ‘version’. For me the book is designed to do four things:

        1) Display in clear English Taoist metaphysics.

        2) Translate the meaning ‘behind’ Lao-Tzu’s maxims.

        3) Encourage an interest in the English speaking world about Lao-Tzu and his classic poem, elucidating the practical nature of his words in a modern setting and context.

        4) Write a modernised book incorporating the spiritual counsel of Lao-Tzu.

        Many translations in English of the Tao Te Ching presume that the reader has a background knowledge in Chinese philosophy/culture. By ‘versioning’ rather than ‘translating’ the Tao Te Ching, it is possible to render the ideas behind the text in a westernised format without weakening the original message.

        Many of the beautiful symbols in the Tao Te Ching are inaccessible to English readers, hence, many translations are filled with numerous endnotes. By studying the writings of many translated scholars on this subject, I was able to create both a unique and yet universal version of this text.

        Any such project will always be fraught with compromise – for instant, this version is not as brief as some of the more ‘classic’ or ‘literal’ translations. This is why I describe my ‘adaptation’ as a kind of ‘lateral’ translation – it translates the message behind the maxims, rather than each word, line by line.

        Also, with the book being a complimentary text, it will be well referenced and so will provide the reader with a wide variety of other translations, scholars, textual and electronic sources.

        As I say, the book will be a ‘stepping stone’ text that will allow the English reader to absorb Lao-Tzu’s ideas, while guiding him to other sources, scholars and traditional translations that are on the market, so as to widen his understanding.

        The book will soon be finished, but it has been a very enjoyable project to work on and will provide an excellent ‘bridging’ text for students interested in this subject.

        Thank you for your detailed reply.

        Much love


      • ceciliawyu
        August 25, 2017

        Best wishes with your adaptation work! Please feel free to keep us posted here at 🙂

    • can
      July 24, 2018

      I´m not Chinese; indeed I´m Spanish speaker from South America and i would like to link you Mike. How can i contact you?

  3. 98Lamar
    March 2, 2017

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    it? Search for; Etorofer’s strategies

  4. Arash
    April 15, 2016

    Hi Cecilia,
    I’m teaching English, French, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese. I want to translate this book into Persian with your permission!
    Do I have permission?

    • ceciliawyu
      April 15, 2016

      Hello Arash.
      The Tao Te Ching (in chinese) belongs to all. I dont need to give you permission.

      But if you are talking about this current copy of the english translation…the copyright does not belong to me …it belongs to a translation scholar from Hong Kong University.

      If you download the pdf…there is a contact email for her! I am sure she will be thrilled if you just make sure you say clearly the translation is based on her chinese translation if the original!!! You must ask her…not me!

      However I would love to see the finished translation in Persian. Can you send me your contact details and I will send you my private email.

      Let me add your Persian translation to spread in my network. I hope it will be very good.

      Goodluck. Best wishes.

    • Aphotic
      April 5, 2017

      Hello Arash i am Persian(living in Iran) too and i would love to read both english and persian translations!

      • ceciliawyu
        April 5, 2017

        That is wonderful but unfortunately the translator from hong kong only did a Classic Chinese to English translation. I hope you find a good translation. Please let me know if you do and I will post it here. 🙂 Cecilia

  5. dan swayne
    April 10, 2015

    yes Cecelia, twas i who asked you and have it bookmarked on my computer and have printed from the pdf and found it to be the most readable and useful version i have ever seen, thanks again, dan

    • ceciliawyu
      April 10, 2015

      No problem. I am very glad you found it useful! It is a very good one and I am glad you gave me a reason to locate the pdf version! This translation should be properly published so we can review how good it is in Goodreads! 🙂

  6. Melisa
    March 20, 2015

    Thank you so much, Cecilia, for sharing this with us. I already have a copy of an English translation, but now I am studying how to read and write Chinese characters and want to add this material to my self-study.

    • ceciliawyu
      March 20, 2015

      No Problem! I am glad you find this translation useful. It is one of the best english/ancient chinese translation I found. I wish you the best with your study of the Tao. Have a lovely weekend. Cecilia.

  7. Judy Prodano
    December 7, 2012

    I think this is among the most useful blog for me. And i am glad to read your articles and ebooks. excellent : D. Good job, cheers

  8. Yu Jason
    November 6, 2012
    • ceciliawyu
      November 6, 2012

      台湾蔡志忠漫画之老子道德经 embedd properly only using this link: www. Anyway, thanks Jason!

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