Jonathan Star has been widely acclaimed for his translations of Rumi, Hafez, the poet-saints of India, and the Christian mystics. Here is an erudite translation and commentary on the Tao Te Ching with the following special features:
• the first comprehensive verbatim translation of the entire text
• literal character definitions that allow the reader to create his or her interpretation
• a concordance section that enables the reader to track the different ways a single character in used throughout the work
• grammatical and interpretive notes on individual terms and verses
• a unique commentary on the first verse, which represents a complete spiritual teaching in itself
• a literary translation of the Tao Te Ching that can be read on its own or compared with the verbatim translation.
Star sees this religious and philosophical classic as an ancient Chinese text consisting of spiritual teachings, folk wisdom, political instruction, cosmology, observations of nature, anti-Confucian doctrine, and mystical insights. In his introduction, he delves into some of the challenges faced by translators and outlines his scholarly approach. He notes: "My goal in this translation was to capture the heart and spirit of the Tao Te Ching, preserve its poetic power, and make clear its teachings, while at the same time being true to the original text.
Here is a sample of his translation:
My teachings are very easy to understand
and very easy to practice
Yet so few in this world understand
and so few are able to practice
My words arise from that ancient source
My actions are those of the universe itself
If people do not know these
how can they know me?
Those who follow my ways are rare
and so I treasure them
Even if they wear the clothes of a beggar
they carry a priceless gem within