Tao Te Ching / Dao De Jing

The Dao De Jing is considered to be the founding text of Taoism and explains the Taoist philosophy and describes how to overcome many problems in life.

It was originally written by Laozi 老子 without chapters. The integration of 81 chapters came hundreds of years later. Some chapters are easier understood when reading the previous chapter.

There are many ways to translate the book’s title, because each Chinese word has many interpretations:

    • Dào/Tao 道 means “way”, “road”, “path”, or “route,” but was given the extra meaning “path ahead”, “way forward”, “method”, “principle”, or simply “the Way”. This word was also used in different ways by other Chinese philosophers (including Confucius, Mencius, Mozi, and Hanfeizi). It has special meaning in Taoism, where it means the basic way of the universe (that can not really be explained).
    • Dé/Te 德 means “virtue” as in “personal character” or “inner strength”. People who followed the teachings of Confucius used it to mean “morality”. A long time ago in English, “virtue” could mean “power” (as in the phrase “healing virtue of a drug”). The same thing was true in Chinese: the word meant “power” a long time ago but now means “virtue”.
    • Jīng/Ching 經 originally meant “norm”, “rule”, or “plan”, was given the extra meaning “scripture”, “great book”, or “classic”.

This version of the Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching) has been shared with us by our friends over at Internal Wudang Martial Arts, and we thank them gratefully.

  1. Tao Te Ching – Chapter 1