Tao te Ching

Book Thoughts is a series where I write about things books make me think about. Simple as that. Not exactly summaries. Not exactly reviews. Just thoughts that occasionally veer away from the books.

Hey look, another Tao book!

This one was likely written in the 6th century BCE by a guy in China we know little about named Lao-Tzu. He’s traditionally accredited as the founder of Taoism.

That means the book has been in the public domain for almost ever, which means various version and translations have popped up since then, including audiobook versions, which makes this an incredibly quick and easy read / listen. In fact, I finished the whole thing during a single day’s work commute.

How’s that for a calm commute?

Like the Way of Zen, this book was another meditative one to go through and put me in a calm state. It feels like Taoism is less of a religion and more of a state of mind, one that surrenders to the natural way of the universe.

When you follow this train of thought about what’s natural and what’s unnatural, it can start to feel like a fine line, in that we are a product of nature, and therefore, couldn’t every thought, hurried habit, and wasteful creation of ours also be considered an extension of nature?

I’m not sure what a Taoist’s take on that would be, but one thing that’s pretty clear from it all is that anything about the Tao that can be expressed in words is not the Tao. So no matter how much I explain it, I know I’m not coming even close.

How’s that for avoiding the question?

Works for me. I don’t expect to sway anyone’s way of thinking in any direction with this one, nor is it my goal. But I do want to say that there’s something to all of this that I’d highly recommend at least exploring. Whether you’re a Christian, Muslim, atheist, or anything else, I don’t see why this can’t be compatible. Then again, it’s new territory for me, so take this all with a grain of salt.

There you have it. Short and sweet. Here’s the audiobook version I listened to in case you’re interested, which included some calming sounds of birds chirping in the background.

Plenty other are out there though, so feel free to find one that speaks to you.

One thing to keep in mind is that it’s a very poetic read that’s been translated many times (like the Bible and many other religious texts), so it might not be a bad idea to find some supplemental material to help interpret it. Here’s a great one by Alan Watts:

That’s all for now.

Love always from Planet Earth,