Tao Te Ching

My roommate suggested I read Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. He describes it as Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul but ancient and Chinese. The version he suggested is the one translated by fantasy and sci-fi author Ursula K. Le Guin, who I recognized for her Earthsea series and a miniseries based on that series of novels that she didn’t like.

It’s been a difficult read for me so far. I’ve never read poetry, much less an entire book of poetry. My experience with it so far is that each poem is like a zipped file. Once you download it, you can unpackage it and there’s a lot of information packaged in there. In that sense poetry seems to be a quite efficient way of unloading a lot of concepts very quickly.

So far Lao-Tzu is all about… not doing anything? It’s hard to explain. It’s like a high level version of “don’t rock the boat” crossed with a quote from Futurama that:

God Entity: When you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.

There’s an element of that somewhere. Ursula K. Le Guin’s comments are great since she clearly loves the Tao Te Ching and finds Lao-Tzu to be funny, which I wouldn’t have picked up on. It’s not unlike a lot of stuff I’ve read about Zen.

I’ll probably have to reread it once I’m done going through it for the first time. It hasn’t been a life changing experience yet, but I guess I’ll have to wait a life time to be sure.


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