The following is the first and last paragraph of the article "Author's Notes" contained in the book Your Dao De Jing.
The first time I read a translation of the Dao De Jing was in 1972. It was the Feng/English version, and though the words spoke directly to my heart I was mystified by the beautiful Chinese calligraphy that accompanied each chapter. I felt that there was something calling out to me in those characters, and it became a life-long goal of mine to be able to read those characters in Chinese. I wasn't a scholar or a sinologist, and I had no intention of trying to learn the entire Chinese language, but I became dedicated to somehow read the Chinese characters used in the Dao De Jing....
I don't claim to know the exact message that Laozi was sending. I don't even claim to know the exact definition of each character used in the Dao De Jing as it was written at the time. I've tried to give all the varying opinions of the etymology of each character listed in my dictionary simply because I don't believe that any person who is alive today could actually "know" what was intended over 2500 years ago. My belief is that Laozi intended for each of us to find our own words, and although each translation of his words is filled with insights, the one that reaches into each person's heart is the one that untangles the ambiguities in a subtle yet inspirational way for each person. What better way to do that than to let the ancient characters frolic playfully through your mind?
After all this time and research, I've come to the conslusion that there is no "wrong" translation of the Dao De Jing. There is only "your" translation.
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