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"To teach the Tao, evaporate like clouds and fall like rain." ~ Kari Hohne
gender-inclusive translations, citations from commentary, seal scripts :

01, 04, 06, 07, 08    09, 10, 11, 15, 21, 22, 23    26, 28, 29, 32, 35,
40, 43, 45, 47    48, 49, 51, 52, 56, 63, 67    70, 73, 77, 79.
Hymning the TAO TE CHING
(Literal 81 Chapter Chinese-English Study Version, Photo-Illustrated)
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Hyperlinked Bibliography: Women Authors on the Tao Te Ching
« The Woman Crookback (Chuang-Tzu)  |  Picturing Tao »
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According to Galia Patt-Shamir (2009), the Tao Te Ching presents "practical poetry, anti-theoretical philosophy, inconsistent logic, atheistic religion, daily metaphysics, earthly mysticism, inactive politics and ancient feminism."All of this could be understood as the essense of "the way."
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The "Tao Te Ching," 道德經, Dao Dejing, (click here to listen to the title pronounced in Chinese), means literally, "The Book (Ching) of the Way (Tao) and its Goodness (Te)." Ellen M. Chen translates it in several ways: "The Canon of Tao and Nature" again "The Classic of Tao and Te" or "The Classic of Tao and its Manifestation, Te." It is one of the major source texts in Chinese Taoism. It was probably compiled in the 5th century, BCE, as a collection of teachings, for the most part passed down from a much older, oral tradition.

The oldest extant version, the Guodian, which is incomplete, dates back to the 4th to early 3rd century, B.C.E. The name of the Tao Te Ching's faithfully nameless author, Lao-tzu (pronounced "Laozi") (老子), means simply "old master," and could be male or female.

According to Ellen M. Chen (1989), "of all the ancient classics still extant, the Tao Te Ching alone draws its inspiration from the female principle." To Chen (2011, p.95), Tao itself is, "the archetypal feminine, producing the cosmic pair, yin and yang, from within its emptiness." The TTC's profound inclusion of the feminine divine is therefore essential to its core teaching.

Photo of Kari Hohne
"Life is always exploring the best of what it might become."
What is Taoism? by Kari Hohne:

"Taoism evolved as a study of natural processes, and how human beings can return to a more natural way of being in the world. One blends into the seamless unity of life, without losing the sense of self. [...] All that you see is not a collection of independent things, but an endless flow of interaction, where the meaning of any one aspect can only be understood in relationship to all that stands next to or influences it. In this way, all of experience is given meaning. [...] Because Tao does not lend itself to interpretation, the entire text of the Tao te Ching attempts to provide an idea of what it is. This ancient wisdom offers a method for approaching experience innocently, so that you may move beyond your habitual responses to access the layers of your untapped potential."

Elsewhere Kari Hohne also says magnificently:
"And like the bird who sings
without knowing why,
every step is a celebration of grace."
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Tao Te Ching & Difference
(Notes below by Sarah Whitworth)

According to Anabella Lyon (2010): "the Tao Te Ching respects difference, a respect exceeding tolerance with its hierarchical implications of gracious acceptance; in the Tao Te Ching difference is the inescapable nature of being."

Likewise, this spirit of individuality and diversity, as a wellspring of spirituality, may be aided and abetted in any study of the TTC, by utilizing as many different translations as is comfortable. Allowing these translations to inform each other is a good way to catch on to the many spiritual implications and unworded images, suggested but not spelled out in the ancient Chinese text. As Jeaneane D. Fowler (2005) makes clear, the Tao Te Ching is "tantalizing in its depth," even perhaps purposely enigmatic, so that "the deepest meanings of the text are only hinted at."

From the introduction to the translation
by Ursula K. Le Guin
"Scholarly translators of the Tao Te Ching, as a manual for rulers, use a vocabulary that emphasizes the uniqueness of the Taoist 'sage,' his masculinity, his authority. This language is perpetuated, and degraded, in most popular versions. I wanted a Book of the Way accessible to a present-day, unwise, unpowerful, and perhaps unmale reader, not seeking esoteric secrets, but listening for a voice that speaks to the soul. I would like that reader to see why people have loved the book for 2500 years.

"It is the most lovable of all the great religious texts, funny, keen, kind, modest, indestructibly outrageous and inexhaustibly refreshing. Of all the deep springs, this is the purest water. To me it is also the deepest spring."

Women Authors on the Tao Te Ching (Bibliography)
Emily Dickinson's Nature Mysticism
Poems by Immortal Sister Sun Bu-er (Pu-erh)
Zen-Taoist Aspects of the Tea Ceremony 
Immortal Sisters (Taoist Women's Poetry)
Way of Tao (Inspiration from Nature)
Free I Ching Oracle at Café au Soul (mobile-friendly)
Lao-Tze's Tao-Teh-King (1898), Interlinear Chinese-English translation by Paul Carus (the inspirational TTC text mentioned by Ursula K. Le Guin in her interview, downloadable PDF)
Women Masters in the Chuang-Tzu (Zhuangzi)
Nature Poetry: "One touch of nature makes the whole world kin." ~ William Shakespeare
Photo of Ursula K. Le Guin
Tao Te Ching translator Ursula K. Le Guin
Online Interview with Ursula K. Le Guin

As regards women and the Tao Te Ching
Ursula K. Le Guin says:
"Since I had taken this book to my heart as a teenage girl, it obviously is a book that speaks to women. Lao Tzu feminized mysteries in a different way from anybody else."

LINKS to Gender-Inclusive TTC Translations:

• by Stephen Addiss & Stanley Lombardo (calligraphy)
• by Roger T. Ames & David L. Hall (includes Chinese)
• by Sanderson Beck (Wisdom Bible)
• by Donivan Bessinger (sage is you, study guide)
• by Ellen M. Chen (with excellent commentary)
• by Thomas F. Cleary (with Chuang-Tzu)
• by Ralph Alan Dale (with commmentary)
• by Thomas Early (as poetry, with commentary)
• by Timothy Freke (uncarved wood)
• by Richard Gotshalk (Tao is "she," sage is "he")
• by Bradford Hatcher (sage(s) plural, with Chinese)
• by Kari Hohne (all-inclusive, with Taoist poetry)
• by Joseph Hsu (literal, with Chinese)
• by Kwan-Yuk Claire Sit (Lao Tzu & Anthroposophy)
• by Livia Kohn (selected chapters)
• by Ursula K. Le Guin (the great science fiction author)
• by Tolbert McCarroll (early gender-inclusive version)
• by John H. McDonald (public domain, sage is "she")
• by Stephen Mitchell (Zen practitioner)
• by Charles Muller (Yi-Ping Ong: intro, notes)
• by Red Pine (Tao is Maiden-Mother, chapts. 01, 52)
• by Holly Roberts (Illustrated)
• by Edmund Ryden (Tao is "she," sage is "he")
• by Stephany Lane Yarbrough (for Inspiring Women)

From the introduction to his translation of the
TAO TE CHING by Stephen Mitchell:
"The reader will notice in the many passages where Lao-tzu describes the Master, I have used the pronoun 'she' at least as often as 'he.' The Chinese language doesn't make this kind of distinction; in English we have to choose. But since we are all, potentially, the Master (since the Master is, essentially, us) I felt it would be untrue to present a male archetype, as other versions have, ironically, done. Ironically, because of all the great world religions the teaching of Lao-tzu is by far the most female."
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