Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Book of the Month February 2012

The Tao Speaks: Whispers of Wisdom is one of the most thought-provoking "comic-book style" books you will ever read.  Written and illustrated by Tsai Chih Chung & translated by Brian Bruya, it collects the wise writings of Lao Tzu....considered the "founder" of Taoism.

Although I'm a Christian & not a Taoist (pronounced Dow-ist), I love reading books on other cultures and religions....and this one was fun, enlightening, and thought-provoking.  The artwork is entertaining  and illustrates fully the wisdom and simplicity of one of history's most mysterious and popular figures.
For westerners who may never have heard of Lao Tzu, you may ask "is he really all that popular and enlightening?"  Well.....they carved out a giant statue of him.....

"All ideas and values are established by people, and value-judgments come through comparisons. But the way we look at things must constantly change, and thus our value-judgements must constantly change. So when dealing with beautiful & ugly, being & nothing, difficult & easy, long & short, high & low, front & back, etc.....take them lightly and don't let them cause you trouble."  --Lao Tzu

Though we are mostly unfamiliar with him in the United States, Tsai Chih Chung has written and illustrated over 20 books collecting the wisdom and sayings, stories and histories of some of the Eastern World's most popular figures.....from Lao Tzu to Sun Tzu, from Madam White Snake to Confucius.  Often illustrating word-for-word from their classic works (in the case of both The Tao Speaks & Sunzi Speaks "The Art of War"), Tsai Chih Chung's masterpieces shed light and revelation about the many beliefs & mindsets of eastern culture.

"Fame and Position incite Contention, Wealth excites people's Greed.  As a result, Lying and Deceit arise in endless succession, and these lead to Confusion and Conflicts in Society." -- Lao Tzu

One of the most fascinating and telling moments of Lao Tzu's life; told beautifully by Tsai Chih Chung, is how his works were recorded.  Having witnessed the decline of society around him, Lao Tzu journeyed north to pass beyond the Great Wall.  The Gatekeeper asked Lao-Tzu for a few notes on Taoist Philosophy before he left, since he was very interested in learning about it.  Lao Tzu wrote a short book for him, consisting of just over 5,000 words and then passed through the Great Wall and was never heard from again......

"Let me mention two more things before you go.  One, Most of what you are studying and teaching are the thoughts of the Ancients, but these Ancients are dead....even their bones are rotten, and yet a few of their words remain.  Don't place too much emphasis on what they said.

Two, Those of superlative virtue are all very simple people.  Eliminate your pride and desires and get rid of your airs and ambitions, for they will be of no benefit to you."  --Lao Tzu to Confucius

Confucius would learn in his own life the truth of these words, much to his own pain and regret.  As a Christian, I find that much of The Tao Speaks....speaks to me and does not contradict the Scriptures.  In fact, it has enabled me to see some of the Bible in a different manner, without the trappings of  "western" thinking.  I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who is searching to know themselves better and find a happy life.

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