"I think that, in many ways, Taoism is a kind of a soft philosophy. It's not about: use your mind, and intention, and, 'I can accomplish everything!' It's definitely pointing us towards another part of our nature, this bending approach, as opposed to a hard, steel, uber-masculine approach to things -- the honoring of water as an element, how it wears away rocks over time.
This is from verse 76: 'When life begins we are tender and weak. When life ends we are stiff and rigid. All things, the grass, the trees while living are soft and pliant, in death are dry and brittle. So the soft and supple are the companions of life, while the stiff and unyielding are the companions of death. An army that cannot yield will suffer defeat. A tree that cannot bend will crack in the wind. Thus, by nature's own decree, the hard and strong are defeated, while the soft and gentle are triumphant.'"
-- Jonathan Star
Jonathan Star in Princeton, New Jersey has a special talent. He's unusually gifted at taking spiritually-inspired literature written long ago in a foreign tongue and making it elegantly accessible to contemporary English-speakers. Here we explore the stunning results of his quest to translate the masterwork of Chinese philosophy: Tao te Ching by Lao Tsu. Its reflections on maintaining life's delicate balance are as relevant today as when first written some 2,000 years ago. Next to the Bible, no other book has been more widely translated. Yet the Taoist wisdom ideas and sayings are often subtle and hard to convey. And much could get lost in rendering it from one language and culture to another. So to carry the meaning faithfully, Jonathan Star devoted 12 years to learning the ancient dialect in which the original Chinese text was written. The fruits of his labors have yielded perhaps the greatest-ever English version of a spiritual treasure. We also listen to comments by the late John Heider, who rendered his own version, framed for people trying to practice Lao Tsu's principles in organizations.