Find out the latest indie author news. For FREE.


Jack Parkinson
A Dao for the Third Millennium
Adapted from the preamble: This work is about the world’s most powerful meme Ostensibly it is about the Dao, and more specifically the classic work that predates the Bible as an instructive text and guide to proper thinking, known as the ‘Dao De Jing.’ But it is much more about what constitutes a ‘good’ life, how should be lived, and what can be done right now to make it happen. Here there is not much pretense of prioritizing scholarly analysis, and though there are indeed some academic references to guide and inform – this book is about work-on-the-self - that process of living a better more harmonious life first outlined by the ancient sage known as ‘Laozi’ more than two thousand years ago. It is meant, as it was way back then, to be a practical guide in the application of age-old solutions to modern dilemmas. This is a contemporary rendition of an ancient, but timelessly universal set of basic principles to advise and assist ordinary folk with their everyday life decisions. It is also a series of reflections on the real meaning of the eighty-one short verses of the Dao de Jing which tell us, from that historical perspective of over 2,000 years, how ordinary people might live better, more satisfying lives by following just a handful of simple guidelines that have stood the test of time. It is also about how those everyday people might better understand the way their lives fit into the much misunderstood ‘bigger picture’ of life that is otherwise called ‘the natural order,’ or to put it more simply – our reality. There are no sermons here, no requirement to have (or not have) a particular faith or philosophy. All that is required is the willingness to listen for a while with an uncluttered mind to some early wisdom on how any individual might proceed if they wish to enjoy a better, more fulfilled life and realize more of their own potential. All this is offered as something to be gained without too much hard work, although as you will see – this is up to you. A little soul-searching and reflection will certainly be needed in developing a healthy and growing appreciation of what really constitutes the ‘better living’ along the way... The Dao explored here is all about the practicalities of attitude, behavior, and self-realization. It is about our contemporary understanding and application of an ancient set of ideas, embracing what might appear at first encounter seem hopelessly self-contradictory, and even occasionally wildly irrational, totally obtuse, and perhaps laughable sentiments. And yet, if there was ever a set of ideas which has stood the test of time, this is it...
“We should not fall into the trap of thinking that the Dao is something rare and strange, and only to be gained only by a deserving and hard-working few as reward for exceptional effort,” writes Parkinson (Farewell Hippie Heaven), in this inviting celebration and in-depth explication of the collection of ancient wisdom known as the Dao de Jing (or Tao te Ching). In concise but searching essays that guide readers through each verse of the Dao, Parkinson makes the case that the essence of the teachings of Laozi from over 2,000 years ago “is found at the moderate center of things, and in the simplest things”—and, crucially, that the Dao offers a “timelessly universal set of basic principles to advise and assist ordinary folk with their everyday life decisions” as well as a path toward understanding how our lives “fit into the much misunderstood ‘bigger picture.’”

Parkinson’s cogent, often inspiring essays emphasize both the pragmatic advice of Laozi, especially in terms of the individual’s “practicalities of attitude, behavior, and self-realization,” and also societal and cosmic concerns, digging into contemporary matters like the decline of organized religion (“Laozi tells us that true wisdom arises from internal reflection and reconciliation of the inner self”) and the power of corporations, governments, and other organizations. Parkinson holds to Daoist principles of moderation and the path of the greater good—a path organizations easily stray from, as they’re “mindless and amoral vehicles” for the ideas of their strongest constituent members.

Parkinson argues that the Dao applies to contemporary life, though he acknowledges gulfs of language and culture separating us from the author he affectionately calls throughout “the old boy.” He writes clear, crisp, engaging prose that boils the teachings down to essences. But accessibility doesn’t mean simplicity, as Parkinson contemplates a host of thinkers and evidence while exploring riddles like “the paradoxical freedom that comes when one is able to recognize and accept one’s own limitations.”

Takeaway: Clear, cogent exploration of the Dao de Jing’s meaning in our lives today.

Comparable Titles: Zhongxian Wu’s Vital Breath of the Dao, Sam Crane’s Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Dao.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

Dr Mark Stevenson, of the Department of Asian Studies at Victoria University, Au

“I enjoyed your turn of phrase and could almost visualize the quiet effort that brought your intuitions and wisdom onto the page.”

“A lot of people would get a kick out of seeing how you have realized other translations… (Of the Dao De Jing) …into a more holistic contemplation of self.”

“This is a book that many readers will appreciate and keep going back to…”