Chinese pictograms are not always easy to translate into modern English. This is particularly true for ancient philosophical texts like the Tao Te Ching. While I do not speak or read Chinese, I have been a Taoist for many years in the Gia-Fu Feng tradition.
Many years ago my teacher suggested that one possible translation for the title of China’s ancient book, Tao Te Ching, is: “A Manual for Living an Authentic Life.” In keeping with the idea of living an authentic life, I decided to title my first novel Naked Tao.
The use of the word “naked” has stirred up some tongue and cheek discussion about nudity. However, it was my intent to use the word in a broader sense. I wanted to emphasis the idea that the way to live an authentic life is to strip away all pretense.
When you think about it, we spend an awful lot of time pretending. For example, we may pretend we have powers or skills we don’t have. In that instance, we are like the Wizard of Oz pretending to be an all powerful wizard, when in fact he was just a little old man hiding behind a curtain.
There are many other ways we tend to hide our true selves behind some artifice, but no good ever comes of faking it. We know who we really are. It is always revealed to us in quiet times like mediation or prayer. If we listen, what we might discover how truly amazing we are!