An elegant and comprehensive critical edition of the Dao De Jing.



A writer offers a translation of a famous Chinese work with commentary from a qigong perspective.

The Dao De Jing is an ancient Chinese classic by Lao Tzu that serves as the foundational text of Taoism as well as an influence on the development of Confucianism and Buddhism. Qigong is a holistic practice of movements, breathing, and meditation that can aid in healing, spiritual growth, and martial arts training. The Dao De Jing was based on Lao Tzu’s “personal understanding about the Dao and the De through his personal qigong practice,” writes Yang (Pain-Free Joints, 2017, etc.) in his introduction. “Since the Dao of managing the body is similar to the Dao of managing a country,” Lao Tzu “offered moral guidance to historical Chinese rulers.” After some preliminary material supplying a context for Lao Tzu and his work—along with a rundown of some of its underlying philosophical concepts—Yang provides all 81 chapters of the Dao in both the Chinese original and in his English translation. He then delivers both a general interpretation of each chapter’s meaning and a qigong-specific analysis. In the case of Chapter 29, for instance (“Doing Nothing—Be Nature”), the general interpretation discusses the concept of wuwei (doing nothing) as it applies to governance: “A ruler should govern according to Nature. Too much of acting on the world (using force) will fail.” The qigong analysis, in turn, is focused on the importance of regulating the mind: “When you practice qigong, your mind must be in a neutral and calm state.” Yang’s translations capture the delicate precision of the original while presenting it in highly accessible language. The dual interpretations of the text are an enlightening feature, even for those readers with no prior interest in qigong. The general interpretation is more outward-facing, toward the world; the qigong one is inward-facing, toward the self. Between the two, the full picture of the Dao emerges as an intriguing symmetry. This is a long book (over 540 pages) for a relatively short text, but Yang’s commentaries greatly aid in understanding Lao Tzu’s words and the worldview behind them.

An elegant and comprehensive critical edition of the Dao De Jing.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59439-619-9

Page Count: 544

Publisher: YMAA Publication Center

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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