Here in the Tao Teh Ching is an essential text for any student of China's rich cultural or philosophical milieu over any part of its history including contemporary China. It is a text that has a wide and enduring influence beginning with its origination around the 6th century B.C.E. It influenced the rise of Confucianism; it has at times been a full-fledged religion or religious movement. It figures prominently in the Imperial Chinese period and becomes a player of sorts influencing political maneuvers influencing China, the Tibetans, the Koreans, the Xi Xi, and other tribal groups (Jurkans or Turks and the Huns who have significant historical impact on European civilization), hovering on the Mongolian border and towards the steppes surrounding China.
In China proper, historical veneration of Taoist shrines continues and new emperors and dynasties are sometimes classified on their stance towards the scholar-test system established based on Confucian standards of literary excellence and influenced by the philosophical thoughts of the time that were influenced by translations of Buddhist texts and the native texts associated with Taoism. In a more contemporary light, one of the initial identifications of Mao's movement was its stance towards "traditional" Chinese thought and learning methods. Taoism was one of these thought systems somewhat at variance with the official political and philosophical platform of China in the 20th century.
The precepts contained in this text are central to these conflicts and have actually resulted in bloodshed on a wide scale on a number of occasions (especially in Imperial history). The precepts are incredibly significant in that they serve as a set of maxims for leadership, understanding, and as a paradigm through which to view the world and everything that makes up the world. The significance of these words that are short (in this edition it is 115 pages), and available in over 250 translations in virtually every language of humanity remains for both its practical and spiritual benefits.