The Tao Te Ching is the most translated book in the world next to the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita. There are over 100 different renditions of this Chinese classic. Novelist, poet, and essayist Ursula Le Guin began working on her own version when she was in her 20s. She has written, "I wanted to make a completely personal version, in the poetic vocabulary of the time, for my own contemporaries; to bring the Tao Te Ching back alive." The result is an elegant, lyrical, and memorable 85-minute encounter with this ancient spiritual text. Le Guin's reading is enhanced by Todd Barton's improvised use of Tibetan gongs, bells, brass, and flutes.
There are many wonderful things in this translation. Le Guin conveys the feminine spirit of the great mystery that holds all things together. She makes clear Taoism's respect for paradox the great use of opposites. There are abundant insights into human nature, politics, philosophy, and everyday life. A few samples: (1) "Trying to get rich ties people in knots." (2) "Contentment is wealth." (3) "Why let the self go?/To keep what the soul needs." (4) "To do good, work well and lie low/is the way of blessing."