(provided by Derek from lisiming.com)
Laozi has been an influential treaty on Chinese people and its culture since its recording 2500 years ago. Its core message are of wuwuo (non-self) and wuwei (non-doing). These concepts were later adopted by spiritual seekers, scholars and emperors in living their lives, governing people, and ruling their countries, and have spread to the daily lives of Chinese as part of the Chinese Culture and tradition.
The entire Laozi consists of 81 chapters. Some scholars name the first 37 chapters as Dao Jing (道经）, and the remaining 44 chapters as De Jing （德经）. They claim that the first 37 chapters explain the concept of the Dao (Reality), and the rest explore the concept of De (Virtue). This division is problematic as one would notice that there are chapters that explains De in the first 37 chapters (e.g. Ch7, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29), while Dao is explained in the remaining 44 chapters (e.g. 43, 51, 67, 70).
Furthermore, upon examination of the text, we could roughly find 3 laozi(s) speaking within the 81 chapters: First Laozi being an enlightened master who speaks from a perspective of non-self and non-doing; second Laozi being an advanced spiritual student who teaches the public of the Daoist principles; and the third Laozi being a government strategist who promotes Daoist concepts as ruling principles for a country. These 3 Laozi(s) speak of the following chapters respectively:
Laozi the enlightened master (33 chapters):
Laozi the advanced spiritual student (27 chapters):
Laozi the government strategist (21 Chapters):
If we use Hawkins’ scale of consciousness (Power vs. Force – David R. Hawkins, 2002) to calibrate each chapter of the DaoDeJing, it could be confirmed that the DaoDeJing consists of three sections (three Laozi(s)), each comes from different level of truth. The first Laozi, the enlightened master, speaks at the level of self-transcendence (LOC 614); the second Laozi, the advanced spiritual student, speaks at the level of a saint (LOC 560-580); and the third Laozi, the government strategist, speaks at the level of an advance intellect (LOC 480). Since higher the level of truth correspond to higher explanatory power in life and closer to the Ultimate Reality (or Dao in Daoist terminology), the first Laozi’s teachings are closest to Dao.
How could there be three sets of writings? It could be because of a single person recording a text at different times in his life, or there could be multiple authors contributing to the text. The reason that constitute to the current version of DaoDeJing is not the concern of this document, nor will this article explore the comparisons of these three Laozi(s). This site will focus on articulating the central and highest teachings of the DaoDeJing, as recorded in the listed 33 core chapters.