Friday Reads: The Tao
Chinese New Year and its culminating celebration, The Lantern Festival on February 19th, incorporate ancient Taoist traditions. Taoism (or “The Way”) is a Chinese philosophy attributed to Lao Tzu and is popular in the West through martial arts, mindfulness, yoga and other practices. “The Tao” advocates a life of complete simplicity in harmony with nature and is a metaphor for one’s essence, or philosophy of living. This week, we are anchoring our otherwise pop-cultural approach with the acclaimed new translation of the essential Taoist text, the Tao Te Ching:
TAO TE CHING: THE ESSENTIAL TRANSLATION OF THE ANCIENT CHINESE BOOK OF THE TAO by Lao Tzu, John Minford
The original mindfulness book, in a landmark new translation by the award-winning translator of the I Ching and The Art of War
The most translated book in the world after the Bible, the Tao Te Ching, or “Book of the Tao,” is a guide to cultivating a life of peace, serenity, and compassion. As one of the world’s great works of wisdom literature, it still has much to teach us today, offering a practical model based on modesty and self-restraint for living a balanced existence and for opening your mind, freeing your thoughts, and attaining enlightenment and self-awareness. With its emphasis on calm, simplicity, purity, and non-action, it provides a time-tested refuge from the busyness of modern life. This new translation seeks to understand the Tao Te Ching as a guide to everyday living and encourages a slow, meditative reading experience. The Tao Te Ching’s eighty-one brief chapters are accompanied by illuminating commentary, interpretation, poems, and testimonials by the likes of Margaret Mead, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. Specially commissioned calligraphy for more than two hundred Chinese characters illustrates the book’s essential themes.
THE TAO TE CHING: A GRAPHIC NOVEL illustrated by Cary Kwok; edited by Sean Michael Wilson and translated by William Scott Wilson
This graphic-novel version of the Tao Te Ching—the poetic classic that is the philosophical and religious basis of Taoism—brings the teachings into a modern light in a completely fresh and unique way. Each of the 81 poem-passages of the Tao Te Ching is reinterpreted by award-winning graphic novel writer Sean Michael Wilson and brought to life by the artful illustrations of Hong Kong artist Cary Kwok, who sets the text in various contemporary scenes to bring out the modern relevance.
THE TAO OF BILL MURRAY: REAL-LIFE STORIES OF JOY, ENLIGHTENMENT, AND PARTY CRASHING by Gavin Edwards
As featured in the new Netflix documentary: “The Bill Murray Stories”!
Over the past several years, a cottage industry has sprung up online around “Bill Murray Stories,” real-life anecdotes of unbelievable encounters with the star: Bill Murray attended a student party at St. Andrews and did the dishes afterwards, Bill Murray gave a moving toast at a stranger’s bachelor party, Bill Murray showed up and read poetry to construction workers at a building site. Fans obsessively track these stories, and Gavin Edwards has hunted down the very best of them to make a book that is a sideways mix of comedy and philosophy, full of photo bombs, street corner encounters, late-night party crashes, and movie set antics, an all-access look at Murray’s exceptional ability to infuse the everyday with surprise, absurdity, and wonder.
THE TAO OF WU by The RZA
The RZA, founder of the Wu-Tang Clan, imparts the lessons he’s learned on his journey from the Staten Island projects to international superstardom. A devout student of knowledge in every form in which he’s found it, he distills here the wisdom he’s acquired into seven “pillars,” each based on a formative event in his life-from the moment he first heard the call of hip-hop to the death of his cousin and Clan- mate, Russell Jones, aka ODB. Delivered in RZA’s unmistakable style, at once surprising, profound, and provocative, The Tao of Wu is a spiritual memoir the world has never seen before, and will never see again. A nonfiction Siddhartha for the hip-hop generation from the author of The Wu-Tang Manual, it will enlighten, entertain, and inspire.
THE TAO OF PHYSICS: AN EXPLORATION OF THE PARALLELS BETWEEN MODERN PHYSICS AND EASTERN MYSTICISM by Fritjof Capra, PhD
Here is the book that brought the mystical implications of subatomic physics to popular consciousness for the very first time—way back in 1975. This special edition celebrates the thirty-fifth anniversary of this early Shambhala best seller that has gone on to become a classic. It includes a new preface by the author, in which he reflects on the further discoveries and developments that have occurred in the years since the book’s original publication. “Physicists do not need mysticism,” Dr. Capra says, “and mystics do not need physics, but humanity needs both.” It’s a message of timeless importance.
THE TAO OF WILLIE: A GUIDE TO THE HAPPINESS IN YOUR HEART by Willie Nelson
Loosely based on the principles of the Chinese philosophy of the Tao Te Cheng, which Willie has admired and followed for much of his adult life, this inspiring and entertaining collection of “Willie wisdom” takes us from his roadhouse days, when he united redneck rockers with straitlaced country music fans, to the mega-sized benefit concerts and environmentalism that define his boundless heart. In the spirit of his fellow Texan Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book, Willie’s timeless insights sparkle with clarity: It’s like having a one-on-one conversation with the sage himself.
THE TAO OF POOH by Benjamin Hoff
The how of Pooh? The Tao of who? The Tao of Pooh!?! In which it is revealed that one of the world’s great Taoist masters isn’t Chinese–or a venerable philosopher–but is in fact none other than that effortlessly calm, still, reflective bear. A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh! While Eeyore frets, and Piglet hesitates, and Rabbit calculates, and Owl pontificates, Pooh just is. And that’s a clue to the secret wisdom of the Taoists.
For more on these and related titles, visit Tao Titles
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