'Of ways you may speak,
but not the Perennial Way;
By names you may name,
but not the Perennial Name.'
The best-loved of all the classical books of China and the most universally popular, the Daodejing or Classic of the Way and Life-Force is a work that defies definition. It encapsulates the main tenets of Daoism, and upholds a way of being as well as a philosophy and a religion. The dominant image is of the Way, the mysterious path through the whole cosmos modelled on the great Silver River or Milky Way that traverses the heavens. A life-giving stream, the Way gives rise to
all things and holds them in her motherly embrace. It enables the individual, and society as a whole, to harmonize the disparate demands of daily life and achieve a more profound level of understanding.
This new translation draws on the latest archaeological finds and brings out the word play and poetry of the original. Simple commentary accompanies the text, and the introduction provides further historical and interpretative context.
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Edmund Ryden teaches at Fujen University in Taiwan, mostly in Chinese but he has also taught translation in the graduate schools of religious studies and of translation. He was the first director of the John Paul II Peace Institute at Fujen University and edited a series of conference papers in the field of human rights. He also teaches human rights at Soochow University, Taiwan. He is the translator of Zhang Dai-nian'se Key Concepts of Chinese Philosophy (Yale, 2002).