Take the sentence "Let the Tao be present in your life and you will become genuine." It tells you what to do and how to live your everyday life. A bit like a prayer it continues in a parallel sentence structure, like this:
“The Tao is great.
The universe is great.
Earth is great.
Man is great.
These are the four great powers.”
At this point I asked myself, if by "Man" he meant the entire human species? To me Homo sapiens aren’t such a great species, because its mainly makes bad contributions to earth and nature are often deleterious. I personally wouldn‘t mention the human as one of four great powers. Other species on earth are more elegant and less destructive. But maybe it was important to the author because this book gives advice on how to live your life as a human being and how to make the best of it.
In one poem Mitchell describes the "Tao" as an invisible power, which flows through everything and cannot be compared to anything material. It reminds me of a person religious people call “God", since it has existed even before the creation of the universe. But other than God you can't define the Tao so well. Everyone imagines it in a different way; some people might think of it as a ghost-like creature, others think of it as a cross or a rainbow.
The positive thing about the Tao is, that people of all religions and secularism can get advice from it regardless of race, gender, sexuality or religious beliefs.
It is a smart read on social, political and ethical/moral issues (e.g. "When the country falls into chaos, patriotism is born.")
In conclusion, anyone can learn something from this book to improve their way of living or their way of thinking about certain topics. And the way a person thinks about something affects their way of acting and can result in different consequences.
--- Jana Adali