September 20, 2014

My first Dao De Jing was DC Lau's 1963 translation, read through the eyes of a skeptical and critical philosophy-theology student, resistant to its riddles and rhythms. But the DDJ has water's power of overcoming and settling, and eventually I was overcome and settled. Through the years I kept notes on the variations of the many translations I read, helpful but ultimately frustrating. I decided to take the plunge into my own translation after finding a couple of interlingual versions (Gregory C Richter's and Jonathan Star's). I had no idea what beast I would beget.

The first draught of my translation took a few months; but I realised I was missing some needed tools, mainly a complete concordance and dictionary to delve into each word. I started creating these tools from scratch, and my translation was put on hold for the next ten years. There are plenty of translations anyway, but my study guide seems unique. It kept growing and feeding on my ideas, but it has finally reached the stage where I can go back and study each word individually and in context of the web that is the tightly woven tapestry of the text of the DDJ. I often spend days, sometimes weeks, on one word. This is where having as many translations as possible comes in handy, though I have narrowed my standard list to a rather reputable group.

My latest translation is presented here, much improved since the first, but still in need of much work. It may be under construction for the rest of my life; I can only hope. Some of the translators and versions I am using and the results of individual word-studies are listed on the Resources page. My study guide is available for sale through (shameless self-promotion).