I have translated and interpreted the Tao Te Ching for more than 40 years, trying always to make this remarkable book more accessible and its wisdom more immediately practical. I have grouped my books into four categories below:
Books for people in certain roles (parent, caregiver, activist);
Books for people wanting to explore the Tao Te Ching in depth;
Books of my own personal reflections on a life inspired, and often challenged by, the Tao Te Ching.
A work of fiction as a experiment in imagining how a Tao-like life might appear.
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Roles We Play
The Activist’s Tao Te Ching
The Tao Te Ching was written in a period of intense conflict and it offers many potent lessons and suggestions as we cope with today’s political, social, and environmental upheaval. I wrote this to be a guide for those who, like me, feel that so much is deeply wrong with the world today, but who are searching for constructive and positive ways to respond rather than fueling the flames with anger.
“[An] inspiration.” — Alice Walker, – The New York Times Book Review
The Sage’s Tao Te Ching
I wrote this free-verse interpretation of the Tao Te Ching to show that the middle years of life and beyond can be a time of great peace and beauty, lived in simplicity and joy. Its message is even more important today, with so many societies obsessed by youth, neglecting the profound wisdom and experience of elders.
“Bill Martin deserves our humble gratitude for reacquainting us with our true selves” from the foreword by Chungliang Al Huang, author of Embrace Tiger, Return to Mounain
The Parent’s Tao Te Ching
Relations between parents and children range from complex and damaging to simple and beautiful. In this volume I draw on the timeless wisdom of the Tao Te Ching, to guide mothers and fathers in the delicate task of building positive, honest, and lasting relationships with their children of all ages.
“I give all my friends with Children The Parent’s Tao Te Ching, as a reminder of what’s important in raising little ones.” – Oprah Winfrey
The Couple’s Tao Te Ching
With love, kindness, and a few simple practices, a relationship can become more joyous, beautiful, and fulfilling with each year. Society seems largely resigned to the opposite, but the Tao Te Ching points the way for couples to grow together in love and happiness rather than apart. This book is ideal for a couple to read together and discuss, a chapter a day, to remind themselves of how and why they fell in love.
“The perfect book for couples to savor in bed together one day at a time.” — Jennifer Louden, author of The Couple’s Comfort Book
The Caregiver’s Tao Te Ching
In this book, Nancy and I draw on the words and wisdom of the Tao Te Ching and on Nancy’s experience as a Hospice worker, minister, and Zen Guide to offer support and guidance to people caring for those who are recovering from sickness or injury or coping with serious trauma, even the end of life.
“This book is a reminder of the preciousness of each life, one moment, each day, every breath, that we may let go of our agenda in offering care, that we may allow for the natural flow of life to be experienced” – Joy Anton
A Path and a Practice
For many readers, the Tao Te Ching can be elusive, even frustrating. It can overwhelm and bewilder. Yet the wisdom in each verse deserves deep consideration as it points the way to a life of peace and presence. This book combines a clear translation with brief commentary and questions, designed to support the reader in a spiritual journey, exploring and appreciating all the Tao has to offer.
“The best translation of the Tao Te Ching I’ve read. In that Martin’s words speak simply an ancient echo with a voice we can grasp.” – Peter Ragnar
The Tao of Forgiveness
This book was an enjoyable departure from my usual poetic style. It examines forgiveness from a collection of original parables and stories, coupled with reflections, questions to consider, and exercises to help get a feel for the freedom from the burdens of guilt, resentment, blame, and anger that a practice of forgiveness can bring.
“Forgiveness is a paradox — Fortunately, the Tao is no stranger to paradox, and Martin proves it can be a vital resource for anyone holding on to not letting go.” – Publisher’s Weekly
Walking the Tao
This is a fresh translation, faithful to the original text but, where possible, simplified and clarified to make it more relevant and digestible. I have added a personal commentary to each verse and offered several questions to help you deepen your appreciation of this profound, at times elusive, ancient work.
This is my favorite translation and I have read many. I love it’s simplicity, it’s candor, it’s poignancy. If you don’t want to drown in words and just want the heart of the messages within the chapters of the Tao te Ching this is the book for you. – Bud Inzer
The Time is Tao – Living Day by Day With Delight
A few years ago, I felt inspired to record my own continuing, evolving journey with the Tao Te Ching. Each entry here begins with a few lines from the Tao Te Ching in my own translation/interpretation, followed by a short piece of my own poetry and a paragraph of prose reflection. It adds up to an honest, personal exploration of the paradoxes and conundrums of life, viewed from a Taoist perspective.
“… a wonderful way to start each day, reading a verse and pondering a few questions that are relevant to everyone’s life. Bill Martin makes ancient ideas timely and accessible. Highly recommended.”– P. Stephens
30 Days of Tao
A volume designed to accompany you on a month-long personal pilgrimage, contemplating essential elements of the Tao Te Ching and their application to your own life. As with any pilgrimage, the journey itself is the goal, and it unfolds slowly and deliberately, a day at a time. I have drawn on passages from the Tao, added thoughts and reflections, and posed questions to be pondered.
“William Martin has a way of putting esoteric, sometimes complicated concepts, into easily understood, tasty chunks… I highly recommend this book.” – Chad Peery
Day by Day With the Tao Te Ching
This volume is designed to be read slowly over the course of a year. For each day over the course of 50 weeks, there is an extract of a verse from the Tao Te Ching, followed by a brief poem and observation. This format allows the reader to absorb the wisdom of the Tao Te Ching in easily digestible pieces, and to do so consistently, applying the teachings to normal daily life.
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Lost in the Tao
These are poems and essays, written from the heart, touching on things that matter to me and challenge me in my daily life. It is intended to be an open, loosely structured collection, accessible to anyone interested in a Taoist perspective on modern life.
The Wheel Will Turn – Reflections on a Quietist Revolution
The Tao Te Ching is a book that speaks of peace, but which also has strong thoughts about bad government, abuse of wealth, and misguided leaders. This volume of essays and reflections taps into the advice and warnings within the Tao, and offers suggestions on how we might take positive, even corrective, action in our daily lives. Quietism and activism are compliments, not opposites.
Tales of the Happy Frog
The Happy Frog is a café, and it becomes the place where some remarkable lives intersect. This was my first work of fiction. I had long wanted to write this story, for the pleasure of it, and to show that we are part of something larger and more unified that we have ever imagined.