The Dao

The Dao

Recently, I’ve seen a couple of books on the Tao Te Ching, originally written by Lao Tzu some 2,500 years ago. Just 81 short verses, it is widely translated in many versions. The 2 versions in question are neither scholarly nor standard.

The first showed up as a reading source to open a discussion group. Written by Wayne Dyer, “Living the Wisdom of the Tao” is a curious juxtaposition of the 81 verses, each with an affirmation. Evidently Wayne put aside his possessions and absorbed himself for a year in the study, a few days for each verse. He blended multiple translations using what “most resonated with my vision and interpretation“. Wayne has stated that he’s not awake.

The other was Byron Katie’s “A Thousand Names for Joy.” The book indicates she has no background in spiritual classics or traditions. Her husband Stephen Mitchell had translated the Tao before they met. He ended up reading her the verses and writing down what she said. This became the book. The book thus has 81 chapters, but starts with only an excerpt from the relevant verse, followed by her commentary.

Stephens translation is one of the ones Wayne mentions using but if one compares the 2, the words are very different. I found Wayne’s pleasant to read and more visual than other translations I’ve seen. But beside Lao Tzu, the affirmations were meaningless. And it did not inspire the depth that Katies/Stephens does.

A simple example. Verse 15, 3rd paragraph.


But the muddiest water clears
as it is stilled.
And out of that stillness
life arises.


Do you have the patience to wait
till your mind settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?

The verse clearly defines what faces many on the spiritual journey. Stepping out of the need to do and into the flow of allowing. Letting it be as it is. Trusting the process.

It was exactly what I needed to read when I read it. When I told a friend about the verse yesterday at an event, we noticed the book was sitting nearby. The verse was exactly what they needed to read for a different reason. This is how Self speaks to Itself, the same thing is what everyone needs to hear in their way.


In Katie’s commentary, she speaks of relationship. Near the end she says “Only by seeking the truth within will you find the love you can never lose. And when you find it, your natural response is appreciation.

This would be my one prayer, because the answer to it brings the end of space and time. It brings the energy of pure unlimited mind, set free in all its power and goodness. When you stop seeking love, it leaves you with nothing to do; it leaves you with the experience of being “done,” in a doing that is beyond you. It’s absolutely effortless. And a whole lot gets done by it, beyond what you think could ever have been accomplished.”

Are you listening?
Are you waiting?

Last Updated on August 3, 2014 by Davidya

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  1. Jim T

    Wayne Dyer also has a book that he expounds a lot more on each verse…
    in the more ‘detailed book’ Wayne Dyer.. makes a point that he feels one of his life missions is to bring the Tao to our generation.. that he is adding some modern color (or Dye) to the tao. that he is a WAY DYER..
    i read it as a daily morning reading and thought it was a great work and introduction to the TAO with practical application excercises… the version with the affirmations is good for the TAO.. but the affirmations are superflous…
    i just started on Katie’s book.. reading it daily also.. sometimes..her chapters are sooo short..
    i may just go ahead and read her book “through” .. it is not making as good of a “morning reading” book as Mr. Dyers.. however.. i think she does get “out of the box” more completely and consistently… they are both good pointers!

  2. Davidya

    Hi Jim
    Thanks for your feedback. Yes, his other book was beyond the scope of the article and I haven’t seen it. His translation is certainly more accessible than some. And it makes a nice pre-meditation reading for the group I’m in.

    Katie’s work is used to illustrate practical application. She’s very grounded. She’s also awake, which makes a big difference in understanding. The only way someone can really capture the essence of Lao Tzu is if they share his experience of the world. Well – at least range. The historical and cultural differences are rather large.

  3. Davidya

    When I first read the commentary, I intended to include it in the post. Got missed when I was compiling the article. Ran into it when I picked the book up again last night.

    Curious how these evolve sometimes. The intention was to focus on the verse and and quote but it became more about comparing 2 versions.

  4. Davidya

    On the back cover jacket of 1,000 Names is this quote:
    “Byron Katie is one of of the truly great and inspiring teachers of our time. She has been enormously helpful to me personally. I love this very wise woman, and I encourage everyone to immerse themselves in this phenomenal book.”
    — Dr Wayne W Dyer

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