( The Way of Life )

The Mystic Wisdom of Ancient China
Translated by Raymond B. Blakney {1955}

Lao Tzu

{approx 500 BC}
Web Publication by Mountain Man Graphics, Australia in the Southern Summer of 1995

The Way of Life - "Tao Te Ching" ...

The Mystic Wisdom of Ancient China

Translators Notes ...

The following notations have been gleaned from the commentary of the translator, Raymond Blakney, in 1955 ...

The identity of China's mystics is complicated by the rule that no true mystic would know himself to be such.

"Where there is no author, however, it is necessary to invent one; and by the time the Tao Te Ching had been put in form, legend had supplied Lao Tzu, and Ssu-ma Ch'ien incorporated the legend in his Historical Records (Chap.63). It presents Lao Tzu correctly enough as one who had given up civilised and is impatient with Confucian ideas and who accordingly departs for points unknown, presumably to live out life as a recluse."

"Confucius came to Chou to consult old Lao Tzu about ritual." [and spoke of the heroes of old ...]

"Lao Tzu said, All those men of whom you speak have long since mouldered away with their bones.
Only their words remain.
When a capable man's time comes, he rises; if it does not, then he wanders wearily around.
I have heard that good merchants keep their goods buried deeply to make it look as if they had none,
and that a superior man whose character is perfected will feign stupidity.
Give up, sir, your proud airs, your many wishes, mannersims and extravagant claims.
They won't do you any good, sir!
That's all I have to tell you."

"Confucius went off and said to his students: 'I know that birds can fly and fish can swim and beasts can run. Snares can be set for things that run, nets for those that swim and arrows for whatever flies. But dragons! I shall never know how they ride the wind and cloud up into the sky. Today I saw Lao Tzu. What a dragon!'"

"Lao Tzu practiced the Way and its Virtue. He learned to do his work in self-effacement and anonymity. For a long time he lived in Chou, and when he saw that it was breaking up, he left. At the frontier, the official Yin Hsi said: 'Since, sir, you are retiring, I urge you to write me a book."

"So Lao Tzu wrote a book in two parts, explaining the Way and its Virtue in something over five thousand words.
Then he went away.
No one knows where he died."

Translatory Notes ...

TAO: A road, a path, the way by which people travel, the way of nature and finally the Way of ultimate reality.

TE: Virtue, character, influence, moral force. The "outward effect of a man and the inward effect of the self."

The final comment by the translator before launching into the ancient chapters of text is the following:

"The message of the book is still of general interest,
and that is important in a day when the old compartmentalisation of the world is so shaken by the idea of 'One World'.
In 'One World' the Tao Te Ching would be quite at home."


The arrangements of the 81 texts have been distributed over nine different web documents, each containing 9 verses.

In order to facilitate movement between the etexts and the index I have created the index document as a separate file.

[Translational & Editorial Notes] [Part 1 of 9] [Part 2 of 9] [Part 3 of 9] [Part 4 of 9] [Part 5 of 9] [Part 6 of 9] [Part 7 of 9] [Part 8 of 9] [Part 9 of 9]


"The Way of Life"

{ Wisdom of Ancient China }

Lao Tzu {500 BC}

Web Publication by Mountain Man Graphics, Australia in the Southern Spring of 1995