Review: Tao Te Ching, Sean Michael Wilson

Rating: 4 out of 5

It’s difficult to really rate something as complex as ‘The Way’. It’s clear—having pondered what I read—that most of it was entirely beyond me, right now. Understanding of the way can only come in small steps, and I think Mr Wilson’s take on this is in the right direction.

Now, because the subject is so complicated, it’s easy to say that what the reader sees in this book does not tally with what they read from Lao Tzu’s words. For me, this was a journey where I read the passages and then compared the image next to each verse, thinking whether the artist’s interpretation of the poem would match mine. In some cases it did, and in others it did not. However, nearly always there was a link I could see between the two, even if my mind didn’t want to follow down that path.

In that way, this is a book that offers two things: one is the (translated) message of Lao Tzu; the other is an interpretation of it. It is not the interpretation because no such thing can exist. Indeed, for a text like this we should figure its meaning out from first principles, but even so every other take sets the reader on a course towards better understanding.

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