For the past week, I've been feeling like it might be a good idea to start a series of LDS commentary on the Tao Te Ching. I find that the work often deeply connects to the ideas contained by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Studying the TTC has added to my understanding of the Gospel.
So today begins my series on the Tao Te Ching. I will be examining the text chapter by chapter from a Christ-centered perspective.
|Lao-tzu. Public domain.|
Of course, some scholars doubt that Lao-tzu even existed, but you can always find a scholar who doubts anything. There is also no recorded text of the Tao Te Ching that is older than a few centuries BC, so we are relying on tradition that the text is truly that old.
However, it seems to me that the pattern here fits other patterns of men inspired by God. The TTC origin story reminds me of what would have happened if the prophet Lehi, on his way out of Jerusalem because of the wickedness of those people, was stopped by the gatekeeper and asked for some wisdom. Or the brother of Jared on his way out of Babylon. Or Samuel the Lamanite on the way out of Zarahemla.
In the Bible, Jesus told His disciples that He had "other sheep" (John 10:16), and Latter-day Saints know some of these sheep to be those who were alive in the Americas at that time. But when Christ came to the Americas to visit those sheep, when He left, He told the people that he had even more "other sheep" (3 Nephi 16:1). I'm just going to quote that scripture here:
|Jesus in the Americas|
And verily, verily, I say unto you that I , which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem, neither in any parts of that land round about whither I been to minister.
|Jesus in Jerusalem|
Make-Up of the Tao Te Ching
|Lao-tzu as Daode Tianzun.|
The original Tao Te Ching has no punctuation, so punctuation is added by translators and may not always be correct. So when you read it you need to have your mind and spirit open and ready to understand multiple interpretations of the text, some of which may even contradict each other.
I've read a number of interpretations of the Tao Te Ching now, and my favored one is the one at Taoism.net, here. It's the one the guys at the Taoism website call "accurate," and it's the one out of all the translations I've read that makes the most sense in the context of the temple and the Bible and revealed scriptures. So I'll mostly use that on this blog. And I'll always link to it.
My study of the Tao Te Ching has been so enlightening and beautiful, and it has strengthened and deepened my understanding of and testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit has been enlightening wise men and women all over the world through all time, and while I don't know that Lao-tzu was necessarily a prophet, or even if he actually existed, as some scholars dispute, I do know that reading the work with his name on it helps me comprehend mysteries that the Bible and Book of Mormon bring up. I'm so excited to discuss them here.