Dennis Willmont

Many Paths, One Center: A Comprehensive Study of the Dàodéjing

Volume 4 in the Dàodéjing Series

  • ISBN: 9780974125794


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This book looks at important words used in the Dàodéjing as terms related to each other throughout the text, as well as other important texts from the period in which the Dàodéjing was written, to provide a broader perspective on what was said and a deeper and more meaningful understanding. In the process, over two hundred different terms were uncovered. When considered appropriately, they were then broken down into five simple patterns: (1) a definition of Dào, (2) the manifestation of Dào in the world, (3) human nature and ancient psychology, (4) how Dào is lost and suffering begins, and (5) how we can restore Dào and the peace and harmony it brings to the world, both on the inner levels of body, mind and spirit and on the outer levels of the social, political and economic interactions we all have.

Approaching the translation of the Dàodéjing from this perspective reveals a worldview that forms the basis for all the healing of body, mind and spirit that was discovered in ancient China and still has enormous potential for application today. This application exists at the lower symptomatic level, the middle preventive level and the higher level of fulfilment of inner potential. According to the Dàodéjing worldview, if we can fulfil this potential, we will never get sick, and if we do not fulfil this potential, we will get sick no matter what else we do. Furthermore, fulfilling this potential is also the basis for world peace and sustainability. Therefore, this worldview combines individual healing with the healing of society as a whole. This unique perspective is desperately needed in today’s world, and this book provides the principles through which it can be achieved.

There are over 800 commentaries on Laozi, but this one is truly unique – a lifelong labour of love and brilliant research that sets a new standard in the field.

Its main focus is on how Laozi’s Great Dào is embedded in acupuncture and Chinese medicine, but it goes much further. It compares how other paths – the Confucian classics, Tibetan and Chan Buddhism, the Hindu Upanishads, Christianity, areas of philosophy, psychology, dietetics (macrobiotics), internal alchemy, Qìgong/Tàijí, Yìjing and meditation – deal with the issues raised in the Dàodéjing. This perspective provides a breathtaking overview of the historical and thematic context of Laozi’s classic that cannot be found elsewhere.

A great strength of this work is the detailed translations from other Chinese classics such as the Zhuangzi and obscure Daoist texts, which Willmont juxtaposes with masterful ease. He peers under the bonnet of Daoist cosmology and illuminates little or completely misunderstood corners such as the true meaning of virtue (dé), how the ten eyes of the ideogram relate to medical and spiritual health, the difference between faith and belief, the root causes of suffering, and the drivers of good and evil.

Readers can expect to spend years poring through the book (divided into short, practical sections with dozens of helpful diagrams) and going in depth to find the pearls most useful to their own path. I own dozens of translations and commentaries on Laozi, and yet I was surprised at how much I didn’t know, despite my decades of study. Every lover of the Dào should give themselves this gift of rediscovering the Laozi.

-Michael Winn, author of ten courses on Daoist Inner Alchemy and Qìgong, member of the editorial board of the Journal of Daoist Studies and founder of



Dennis Willmont

Dennis Willmont

Dennis Willmont has been practicing shiatsu, acupressure, Taijiquan, and Daoist meditation since 1971 and acupuncture since 1976. In 1969 Dennis received his bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and Philosophy from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. During this period, he took a philosophy course in Comparative Religion and was exposed…

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