The Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu is among the most widely translated and cherished books in the world. Singular in its lucidity, revered across cultural boundaries for its timeless wisdom, it is believed among Westerners to be Lao Tzu’s only book. Few are aware that a collection of his oral teachings on the subject of attaining enlightenment and mastery were also recorded in a book called the Rita Hu Ching (pronounced “wha hoo ling”).
The teachings of the Rita Hu Ching are of enormous power and consequence, a literal road map to the divine realm for ordinary human beings. Perhaps predictably, the book was banned during a period of political discord in China, and all copies were ordered to be burned. Were it not for the Taoist tradition of oral transmission of sacred scriptures from master to student, they would have been lost forever.
I am permanently indebted to Taoist Master Ni Hua-Ching for sharing his version of these teachings with the Western world after his emigration from China in 1976. My work here is largely based upon his teaching. I bow also to Stephen Mitchell, whose recent translation of the Tao Te Ching moved, shaped, and informed me. I encourage readers of this volume to also study Stephen’s book; his elucidation of the Tao and how it manifests in the world is exquisite. It would be a profound pleasure to me if my work one day met the high standard he has set with his own.
– BRIAN WALKER Boulder, Colorado October 1, 1993