Each Journey Begins with a Single Step

The Taoist Book of Life

Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Hampton Roads, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-57174-838-6


Tao is a journey. Making that journey is best done with mindfulness and wisdom. Along the way, there will be times of joy, sadness, poignancy, accomplishment, and satisfaction. How are we to best arrange that? How can we use the experience of those who have made the journey before us?

The poetry of Tao is one honored guide. For thousands of years, people of extraordinary insight have condensed their thought into vivid poems. This book is a translation and arrangement of China’s greatest wisdom. Through verse, the poignancy of these lines can resonate better than a hundred books of discourse.

This book contains:
• All eighty-one poems of the Daodejing.
• All sixty-four Images that Confucius wrote for the I Ching.
• The insightful poems of dozens of China’s best poets, including Li Bai, Du Fu, Wang Wei, Meng Haoren, Ouyang Xiu, Yu Xuanji, Bai Juyi, and Tao Yuanming.
• Excerpts from the Analects, Book of Rites, Classic of Poetry, Art of Strategy, Mengzi, and the Taijiquan Treatise.
• Other sources including proverbs and canonical texts.

This book juxtaposes these works so that they can comment on each other. In addition, the poems are grouped into the subjects that everyone on a Taoist path must encounter: Journey, Beginnings, Beyond Names, Yin Yang, Sorrow, Seeking, Cycles, Tao, Heaven and Earth, Mystery, Soft, Excellence, Self-Cultivation, Sageliness, Peace, Nonaction, Nothingness, and Simplicity.

Ancient Chinese is terse and has many allusions difficult to grasp today. An extensive glossary and notes section offers the interested reader more background on geographical, biographical, and philosophical terms.

Laozi wrote in the Daodejing: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” If you are searching and traveling, this book will be an ideal companion for your journey.


In this compendium of translations from the Daodejing (Tao Te Ching), the Yijing (I Ching), Chinese proverbs, the Book of RitesAnalects, the poetry of Wang Wei, Li Bai, Du Fu, and others, Deng Ming-Dao has given us a great wisdom book of Chinese philosophy and poetry, of political values and religious thought. At the center of the book is the Tao, a way of seeing and a way of being. Deng Ming-Dao’s masterful translations demonstrate what mindfulness is. This is a book to keep near and to savor, to return to again and again, each page a step into the journey.

Joe Stroud, author of In the Sleep of Rivers; Signatures; Below Cold Mountain; Country of Light; and Of This World: New and Selected Poems

Deng Ming-Dao is a canny, discerning guide through the deep wisdom contained in the foundational texts of Chinese thought and philosophy. Rendered in lustrous and compelling new translations, Deng here offers readers the complete Daodejing interspersed with complementary selections from the Yijing, the Analects, the Book of Rites, as well as Chinese poems, proverbs, and treatises. From these many sources, Deng has assembled a compelling tapestry, a subtle and lucid compendium that can be read as a map, though it leads to no preordained destination. A sage fellow traveler, Deng knows that the journey is all, and with Each Journey Begins With a Single Step he offers his heart and his hand to anyone who would follow the same road. This book is a precious gem—a gift to anyone who would “follow the Tao for life.”

Gary Young, author of Hands; The Dream of a Moral Life; Days; Braver Deeds; No Other Life; Pleasure; Bear Flag Republic: Prose Poems and Poetics from California; and Even So: New and Selected Poems

A marvelously engaging and innovative omnibus! Deng Ming-Dao maps here the way of China’s perennial philosophies. A wise and trusty mentor, he lets the landscape, within us all and all around us, speak for itself, so that we may each find our own way with this timeless guide.

Gary Gach, author of Pause, Breathe, Smile

The poeticality and spiritual depth of Deng Ming-Dao’s writing inspires the reader to believe that wisdom will save humanity from self-destruction. The Taoist artist’s translation of the Daodejing and other ancient Chinese works provides a new and thought-provoking approach to the Truth, known and still unknown . . .

Larisa Segida, author of Berries: 210 Thoughts and Photographs on Life, Love and Light

As a poet, I appreciate the complexity, simplicity, and mystery of these verses. As a man who devoted a great deal of his life to athletics, I was moved profoundly by the physical and organic nature of the imagery. “I bare my chest to the living clouds/strain my eyes toward the birds flying home/I will climb to the very summit/and shrink many mountains within a single glance.” When I read from “The Song of Practicing the Thirteen Dynamics,” from Shanxi Wang Zongye’s Taijiquan Treatise, I thought these words should be compulsory reading for every aspiring athlete. There is great wisdom in this collection. Deng Ming-Dao’s translations need to be kept at one’s bedside for reading before sleep and for reading the moment one awakes. One could not end the day or begin the day in a better way.

Tom Meschery, author of Over the Rim; Caught in the Pivot: The Diary of a Rookie Coach in the Exploding World of Pro Basketball; Nothing We Lose Can Be Replaced; Some Men; Sweat: New and Selected Poems About Sports

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