Practicing the Tao Te Ching: 81 Steps on the Way (Paperback)
Most people think of the Tao Te Ching as a book on philosophy or a treatise on leadership. Yet there is a little-known treasure hidden within the familiar passages of Lao Tzu’s work: step-by-step practical guidance for the spiritual journey. With Practicing the Tao Te Ching, renowned teacher Solala Towler reveals a new facet to this spiritual classic, offering accessible instructions paired with each of the 81 verses of the Tao Te Ching.
"Tao is a way of deep reflection and learning from nature, considered the highest teacher," writes Towler. "It teaches us to follow the energy flows within the heavens, the earth, and our own bodies." With lucid instruction and deep insight, he guides you through meditations, movement and breathing practices, subtle energy exercises, and inner reflections—all to help you to embody Taoist wisdom in every aspect of your life.
About the Author
Solala Towler has taught and practiced Taoist meditation and qigong for more than 25 years. He is author of Tales from the Tao, Tao Paths to Love, and more. Solala is the editor of The Empty Vessel, a widely respected journal of Taoist philosophy and practice. He teaches qigong and sound healing at conferences and workshops around the country. For more, visit abodetao.com.
“I have not read such an inspiring, fascinating nor powerfully spiritual publication as Practicing Tao Te Ching by Solala Towler for such a long time...[It] is a truly great and impressive work—one that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone looking for an authentic form of effective spiritual guidance in their lives. Our rating: 5/5.” —Spirituality Today
“Towler (Tales from the Tao), a teacher of Taoist meditation and qigong for over two decades, suggests that the Tao Te Ching is a spiritual practice guide for moving oneself toward oneness with the Tao. He guides readers through each of the 81 verses with a threefold approach. Towler translates the verses using clear, succinct phrasing without sacrificing poetics. His commentary is meant for contemplation, drawing influence from Chuang Tzu (another Taoist teacher), Ho Shang Gong (a more esoteric, alchemical interpreter), and his own teacher, Hua-Ching Ni...Towler is a gentle and warm teacher, successfully rendering the Tao Te Ching into everyday practical language and making its concepts available to a general audience. Those who are looking to become more spontaneous, open, and honest will find a worthy guide in Towler.” —Publishers Weekly
“In Practicing the Tao Te Ching, Solala Towler offers a thoughtful and practical guide to the practice of Taoism. Many books have been written about the ancient Chinese text, the Tao Te Ching, but Towler’s view is uniquely grounded and accessible.
Towler explores a central theme for each of the eighty-one short verses of the Tao Te Ching and pairs these with experiential exercises in meditation, breathing, or movement—such as Water Meditation, Sitting and Forgetting, or Giving Up the Need to Be Right. In the introduction, he advises the reader to begin by reading the verses sequentially, as each chapter and practice builds on the last.
For the individual seeker interested in exploring Tao, this work will speak sincerely to the heart and mind...Towler offers a powerful and quietly profound tool for journeyers who are drawn to this spiritual path.” —Kristen Rabe, Foreword Reviews
“As the cornerstone of Taoism, the Tao Te Ching is known for its mystical treatise and abstruse understanding on metaphysics and concrete science. This well-written and accessible book throws the door wide open for practitioners to better understand the Tao Te Ching through dedicated practice. Solala Towler’s approach reveals the quintessence of the study: Taoism relies upon practice, the cultivation of innate nature, and preserving life force. Under his guidance, both beginners and the experienced can deepen their practice as well as digest the inner core meaning of the Tao Te Ching.” —Hu Xuezhi, author of Revealing the Tao Te Ching: In-Depth Commentaries on an Ancient Classic
“A well-written and eminently useful guide to putting the teachings of Taoism’s greatest sage into one’s daily life and practice. So simple, even Lao Tzu would understand it.” —Red Pine, author of Lao-Tzu’s Taoteching
“I own two-dozen Tao Te Ching translations. Solala Towler's unique addition outshines them in brilliant new ways. He treats Lao Tzu as a personal Sage-guide, and ingeniously turns this classic of mystical Tao philosophy into a boots-on-the ground manual for spiritual practice. This awakens a fresh perspective—it becomes a Living Guide to The Way. He suggests we consult it daily, like the I Ching, for divination—and that we use the many Taoist practices he offers in this precious manual to grasp the subtle qi reality Lao Tzu describes. Solala immersed himself in all things Taoist for decades as publisher of The Empty Vessel magazine. Practicing the Tao Te Ching is a distillation of vast wisdom into practical methods that use tai chi, qigong, feng shui, and Tao inner alchemy to help us ‘get’ Lao Tzu. The result is a treasure trove with 81 Steps (Verses) to Sagehood—a modern masterpiece the Old Boy himself would admire. It’s a worthy addition to any qi-cultivator’s library and promises a lifetime of refining our soul’s Way.” —Michael Winn, coauthor with Mantak Chia of seven books on Taoist methods and founder of healingdao.com
“When I first took a college course on the Tao Te Ching, the teacher had us study many different translations simultaneously, which is a testament to the depth and timelessness of the original work. Like any true classic, the Tao Te Ching still inspires new ideas, deep and life-changing perspectives, limitless discussion, and cultivation of one’s spirit. Over millennia, it has become a vast tree with many branches of translations, commentaries, and different applications in fields as vast as art and science. Practicing the Tao Te Ching is a marvelous branch, sprouting out of this giant, ever-growing body of work. Solala Towler has provided commentary that not only helps elucidate the location of the many paths the Old Sage points to, but Solala has also successfully guided us down some of these paths with real, practical ways to cultivate and experience some of the teachings in this classic. As many of these pathways are covered in the brambles of a few thousand years of overgrowth, pushing aside some of the modern weeds to see the paths leading into the old forest is invaluable. Most commentaries stop there. Solala Towler has taken his role as a guide more seriously, and helped lead us down some of these old ways. We need more discussions that offer practical guidance with the potential for actual transformation and experiential growth like this book offers!” —Wu De, author of Zen & Tea One Flavor and The Way of Tea; publisher of Global Tea Hut magazine