I have been reading and enjoying D.C. Lau’s translation of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching for many years. What I like about the text is the startling minimalism of it; this is a slim work, and words are not wasted. This is a religious-philosophical choice, I am sure, since words are held skeptically in this Daoist text. They are an inadequate vessel to express the concepts of the book, but they are, of course, all we have.
To that end, the Tao Te Ching uses all manner of verbal puzzles and self-contradictory phrases to get behind or beyond the meaning of words to the elusive Dao, the Way, which is behind all things, yet does not move them. This book attempts to enshrine a mystical view of the world in a text; a difficult venture, but it works. It does not mass produce words. It keeps things simple. The text is the jumping off point for experiential investigations about how reality works. What better goal for a religious work?