"Fame or the self, which is dearer?
The self or wealth, which is greater?
Gain or loss, which is more painful?

"Thus excessive love must lead to great spending
Excessive hoarding must lead to heavy loss

"Knowing contentment avoids disgrace
Knowing when to stop avoids danger
Thus one can endure indefinitely."

This passage is from Derek Lin's translation of Lao-Tzu's classic Tao Te Ching. This text speaks to us across 2,500 years and immerses us in its lyrical, mystical, and down-to-earth wisdom and counsel. Lin is director of Tao Studies at the Great Tao Foundation of America and is an active speaker and educator on the Tao Te Ching and Tao spirituality.

In the introduction, Lin notes that this classic ranks with the Bible as one of the most translated books of all time. He is convinced that it could be studied over the course of a lifetime and still its richness of meaning would not be diminished. Its flexible and inclusive nature makes it an ideal interfaith text.

Lin's explanations of the Tao Te Ching offers many keen insights into the themes that intrigued Lao Tzu: the nature of simplicity, the importance of opposites, the value of emptiness, the virtue of silence, the practice of selflessness, the multiple meanings of water, the significance of moderation and restraint, the dangers of excess, recipes for managing the ego, the concept of emulation, the virtue of humility, and much more.