Literal meaning: ‘Sutra’ or ‘Scripture’ of ‘The Way’ of ‘Virtue’
Commentary: Dàodé Jīng is the foundational 400BCE text of Taoism, said to have been written by Lǎozǐ. This text strongly influenced other schools of Chinese philosophy, particularly Confucianism and Buddhism, which was largely interpreted through the use of Taoist words and concepts when it was originally introduced to China. Taoism, having evolved in various ways, boasts a vast range of meditative practices today. However, this founding text of Taoism is used for contemplative purposes and contains no tangible practices at all. It contains 81 brief verses of approximately 5,000 old Chinese characters. It has two parts: part one is called Dào Jīng (道经; verses 1-37) and part two is called Dé Jīng (德经; verses 38-81). It has been translated in several languages; there are 100 translations in the English language alone, making it one of the most widely translated texts in history. China is home to a number of spiritual, religious and philosophical traditions, but it is Taoism that was first born in ancient China estimated around 400BCE, with a cultural legacy permeates people’s daily life even to this day. It is described as a contemplative text because of its laconic and poetic written style, which combines both short statements and intentional contradictions. The first creates memorable phrases while the second forces its reader to reconcile the apparent contradictions. Many artists have drawn upon this classical Chinese text as a source of inspiration.