I love this translation of the Dao De Jing
I am so pleased to find it.

Take your time, enjoy.

An introduction to a modern interpretation of The Dao De Jing of Lao Tzu by Ron Hogan


"eternal mystery" and whatnot.
But the beauty of the book isn't in its language,
at least not for me - it's in the practical advice Lao Tzu offers us
about how to live a productive, meaningful life on a day to day basis.

What I wanted to do was to make that advice as clear to a modern American reader
as it would have been to the guard who first asked Lao Tzu to write it down.

I worked through the first twenty chapters,
then put therough draft up on my website under a pseudonym
I used online back in those days.
A bunch of fan mailcame in, so I kept plugging away at the text,
then my hard drive collapsed and all my files were completely erased.
I was freelancing pretty steadily then,
and what little free time I had I spent building my own website,
so the TTC went on hold.

I got an occasional email asking about the other chapters,
and I developed a stock answer.
When it was time for me to finish the job, I told people, I would.

Years went by.
I'd left LA for San Francisco, then moved up to Seattle,
chasing after big dotcom money.
It was great for a while, but as Lao Tzu says,
"If you give things too much value, you're going to get ripped off."
In the middle of the worst of the frustration, I rediscovered the Tao Te Ching,
and realized I needed to finish what I started.
I dug out all my old copies of the TTC
and went shopping for more versions,
some of which were even better than the ones
I'd found the first time.

Brian Browne Walker's translation comes close
to the modern oral quality I was striving for,
though his voice is still much more of an "Eastern sage" voice than mine.

David Hinton is somewhat more poetic,
but I think he does awonderful job of capturing what Lao Tzu
may have actually sounded like to his contemporaries.

And Ursula K. LeGuin strikes a balance between the modern and classical
voices that gave me a new perspective on Tao;
her commentaries on several chapters are enlightening as well.

I wish I could say that I wrote the remaining sixty-one chapters in a hurried creative frenzy,
but things took a little longer than I thought.
I got distracted by the decision to move to New York City,
and though I did get some work done on the book,
it was a little over a year later,
when (and, yes, I know how cliched this sounds)
the planes crashed into the World Trade Center
and I realized I'd still been wasting too much of my life
on things that didn't pan out.
Instead of talking about getting serious about my life,
has also made me appreciate chapters 30 and 31 a lot more,
for reasons that will become readily apparent.)

So here you are--with my own name attached,
as the pseudonym has long since fallen away.
From a scholar'spoint of view, this TTC is unfaithful to the original text on more than one occasion,
if not in every single line.
Case in point: in chapter 20, Lao Tzu didn't exactly say,
"Don't spend too much time thinking about stupid shit."

For all the liberties I've taken with his words,
however, I've made every attempt to stay true to his message,
and I hope you'll find something useful in my efforts.


Ron Hogan
January 2004










back to dao de jing index



Dao De Jing Menu