Rainbow of Tao: A Book Recommendation
Sometimes life has a way of making connections for us, and all we have to do is get out of the way. My friendship with Jane English has certainly felt that way. What a serendipitous gift out of nowhere! If you don’t know who Jane English is, I invite you to read my previous blog post on the beginning of our connection here, through her calendar of photography of a Vermont pond, Greenlandic shamanic wisdom cards called “Ceremony Cards,” and of course her famous collaboration with Gia-fu Feng on two of the most popular English editions of the Tao Te Ching (aka, Laozi, Daodejing) and Chuang Tsu (aka Zhuangzi), first published in the 1970s and quite possibly also sitting in your very own bookshelf. In addition to these works, she has also been publishing a yearly “Tao Calendar”, based on her gorgeous photography and excerpts from the two books with Jia-Fu mentioned above.
Since I wrote that first blog about getting in touch with Jane more than three years ago, the chain of connections between us has continued to blossom: Shortly after our first contact, I actually got to meet Jane in person and even had her stay at my home! She was in Portland to work on her Tao Calendar with her publisher, Amber Lotus, and went out of her way to spend time with me and my newborn goats, gift me a powerful Ceremony Card reading, and meet my friends Heidi Linden and Brenda Hood (to the left and right of Jane, who is in the middle in the picture here). Obviously all are goat lovers!
Besides the inspiration and joy that I have experienced as the direct result of my friendship with Jane, our connection has also borne some concrete fruits for my publishing company Happy Goat Productions: Through Jane, I met the lovely couple behind Amber Lotus Publishing who in turn introduced me to my wonderful graphic designer Barbara Tada at Pixelgarden Design. Barbara has been doing the layout and cover design for my books ever since, starting with the revision of the Divine Farmer’s Classic of Materia Medica and also including the gorgeous cover of my most recent Humming with Elephants, which we continue to get compliments for. I feel so grateful to have her on board at Happy Goat Productions! And as I am writing this blog, she is busy working on our newest cover for my forthcoming book Channeling the Moon: A Translation and Discussion of Qí Zhòngfǔ’s “Hundred Questions on Gynecology.”
For the cover of that book, I had my heart set on a photograph of the full moon rising over the sea from the spot that I enjoy it from every month by my home on Whidbey Island. Unfortunately, none of my own photos were good enough quality for such a lofty purpose, and I was out of town during the last full moon. So I roped my friend Lynne Donnelly into trying to take pictures, got her set up at just the perfect spot, and we figured out the perfect timing, but Mother Nature did not cooperate. The clouds rolled in right as the moon was rising over Camano Island across Saratoga passage, and the resulting pictures, beautiful as they are (see to the right) were unfortunately not quite right for Barbara’s design needs. What a disappointment!
Unable to wait for this upcoming full moon because we really need the book to be out by the time I will be teaching at the big international TCM Congress in Rothenburg, Germany at the end of May, what were we to do? Mulling this over in my living room, my gaze fell on the book on my coffee table, and the true topic of this blog: A Rainbow of Tao by Jane English. Here is where the story comes full circle!
This sweet little book is a gift I received from Jane a while ago and that I have been treasuring a page or two at a time on quiet evenings. As the back cover explains, through this book Jane tells “her experience with the Tao through her words and her color photographs of nature, accompanied by selections from Tao Te Ching and Chuang Tsu.” Her inquisitiveness, quirkiness, adventurous spirit, humor, respect for the ancient wisdom, and deep authentic experience of a lifetime lived in awareness of the Tao shine through on every page:
It appears to me that this little treasure is the perfect book for any Chinese medicine practitioner to have set out in their waiting room, perhaps alongside Jane’s translations of the Laozi and Zhuangzi, or two other versions of those books that I treasure: Ursula Le Guin’s version of “Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching” and Thomas Merton’s “The Way of Chuang Tzu,” which is discussed here. It could also be a perfect reading for a beginning student of Chinese medicine or a nice gift to yourself or another practitioner who needs to be reminded of the wisdom and beauty and magic of the Tao that is the true root of all practice of Chinese medicine.
The Rainbow of Tao can be opened randomly to a single page, with beautiful photographs accompanied by a brief citation from Jane and Gia-fu’s Laozi or Zhuangzi translations or a comment by Jane. No more words are needed to describe her book... I am tempted to order a truckload of this book and send a copy to every one of my practitioner friends because I love it so much. So please do check it out and consider getting your own copy here. As you can see, even my cat loves this book.
Lastly, to return to Jane and our serendipitous connections one last time, looking at Jane’s photographs, it struck me that she may just have a picture of a full moon for me. And since I always pick my cover art with great care and with attention to the energy of the person who created it, I instantly loved the idea of having Jane involved in this book. And sure enough, I immediately got a reply from Jane with this picture, which is now about to grace the cover of my forthcoming book. Stay tuned for that!