Your Dao De Jing   
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Excerpts from Your Dao De Jing by Nina Correa

The following excerpts from the book Your Dao De Jing are meant to give you a brief glimpse into the information contained in the book. Each excerpt is merely a small section of the article.

WHO WAS LAOZI?

Laozi (Lao Tzu) is considered to be the author of the Dao De Jing. He is also considered to be the father of Daoism, since he was the first person to use the term "Dao" as the basis of his philosophy. Sima Qian, the Grand Historian (ca. 145-86 B.C.E.), was the first person to write an account of Laozi's life, and there are many theories surrounding the mystical personage of Laozi, includung the idea that he was born as an old man with a long white beard. Although the historians don't agree on who Laozi was, as there is no actual record of his birth or death, he has been honored as the father of Daoism and as a deity by religious Daoists....

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A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CHINESE WRITING SYSTEM:

The Chinese writing system began with drawings of animals and objects found in nature, and hasn't changed very much from that style over the centuries. By looking at the Traditional Chinese characters, we can still see semblances of the original primitive drawings, but many of them have become so simplified that the lines no longer look like the objects they originally portrayed. Anyone who is interested in viewing Chinese characters as pictographs must look to the ancient characters for reference, and that is why I have included not only the Traditional and Simplified characters in this book but also some examples of the Seal, Bronze and Oracle Bone characters....

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VERSIONS OF THE DAO DE JING USED IN THIS BOOK:

Until the recent discoveries of ancient texts found in gravesights in the towns of Guodian and Mawangdui, the earliest known texts of the Dao De Jing were those associated with the commentaries of Yen Tsun (53-24 BCE), Wang Bi (226-249 CE), and Ho-Shang Kung (179-157 BCE or the third or fourth century CE). However, all present versions of those texts (called the "received" texts) have been re-copied over the centuries leaving room for various changes in interpretations, and there is no known existing original writings of any of those texts. The Wang Bi version is the most widely read version, and that is the version I used for a modern reference in this book. The Wang Bi version contains 81 chapters, although the newest discoveries of older texts (described below) show no such divisions into chapters....

In this book, I have chosen to include all 81 chapters of the Dao De Jing, even though they are not all included in the Guodian text, and to use the chapter divisions designated in the Wang Bi version simply because that's the way most of us have become accustomed to reading the Dao De Jing. As this book isn't meant to be a scholarly examination of the ancient texts, but a method for those of us who are amateurs to be able to read the Chinese texts in English, I have combined the ancient texts of the Guodian, Mawangdui and Wang Bi versions....

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PUNCTUATION AND GRAMMAR:

The lack of punctuation and grammar in the Dao De Jing (as well as other ancient Chinese texts) has confused everyone who tries to read the Dao De Jing in Chinese. If you look at the series of characters and just see a bunch of disconnected words, that's what most people see when they first look at it. In the most popular Chinese version of the Dao De Jing, the Wang Bi version, punctuation marks have been added...

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PRONOUNS:

Personal pronouns:

In the English language, personal pronouns are usually singular or plural: "I, me" or "we, us". The ancient Chinese language didn't make that distinction since people usually related to each other as a group rather than as individuals. Families lived together for their entire lives; people in a community worked together on their fields; the good of one person was considered to be the good of all. In later times, the Chinese characters weren't changed to designate the difference between when an author was writing about himself personally or the group in general. It was left up to the reader to sort out the context of the sentence to determine who the author was refering to....

Pronouns:

In Chinese pronouns aren't gender specific. A pronoun could refer to a male, female or thing (he, she, or it). In the English language pronouns are used as a sort of abbreviation refering to someone or something that has been mentioned before. By designating the gender or neutrality, it's easy to understand what is being refered to. For example, "John and Sue built a house." That could be followed by: "He was strong." "She was strong." "They were strong." or "It was strong."...

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NEGATIVES:

There were nine negatives used in the Dao De Jing...

It is important to note the distinction between them and their usage....

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EARTH, WORLD, HEAVENS, UNIVERSE:

The use of the terms Earth, World, Heavens, and Universe in the Dao De Jing had more philosophical meaning than the way in which they are used today. From ancient Chinese mythology, the Earth was considered to be like the Mother, and the Heavens were like the Father. Neither the Earth nor the Heavens had the ability to create anything on their own, but when they were joined they created a great thunder from which sprouted all life. The life which was thus created lived in the World....





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