Ralph Waldo Emerson
(1803 - 1882)


The Tao of Emerson
by Richard Grossman

Reviewed by Dirk Kelder

I've been interested in the Tao Te Ching for a long time. Over the years it gave me a perspective that has enabled me to deal with this world in a way that leaves me relatively centered and free of unpleasant consequences. That is, when I was able to remember "the Way", which is one translation of the word "Tao". Quite a few years later I discovered Emerson and also found him to be in touch with a source that is reliable and alive. In retrospect it seems obvious to connect these two streams but it did not occur to me until it was introduced to me by Richard Grossman, and his book The Tao of Emerson does an admirable job of linking them.

The Tao Te Ching contains 81 short verses, each containing insight into the way life carries itself or impacts us, as well as insight into responding to it in an enlightened way. The Tao of Emerson includes the entire text of the Tao Te Ching as translated by the British Sinologist James Legge. On opening the book, one verse is found on the left hand page; the right hand side contains words of Emerson that mirror the words of Lao Tse as found in that verse. As I read and compare these words it is clear to me that they both point to (or come from) a common source. But what is so refreshing about this is that they come to this source from such different standpoints or perspectives. This is certainly understandable since these authors are separated not only by thousands of years, but also by thousands of miles, not to mention the East/West gap, which could easily be portrayed as an abyss.

And so Richard Grossman's book builds a bridge that spans this large distance, and it does this very well. The bridge is solid and secure and I come away from it enriched in the sense of having access to many of life's faces and facets, and with an ability to integrate or synthesize them, further leaving me with a sense of beauty and power.

To find out more, check the publisher's page, and to get a taste of what it has to offer, you can read an excerpt from the book.

A Year With Emerson: A Daybook
by Richard Grossman

Richard Grossman's other Emerson book offers ready access to Emerson's wisdom to inspire and brighten each day of the year. It was compiled and published in celebration of Emerson's bicentenary. For more information, visit the publisher's page which includes a preview in PDF format. You can also preview the entire book online at Google Book Search.

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Last revised: February 11, 2008.