George S. Ledyard
If you take a look at the Tao Teh Ching the Chinese is open to multiple levels of interpretation due to the nature of the language. If you don't read it in the original, you lose those multiple levels. However, the book is the single most translated text in Chinese (other than Mao's little red book which doesn't count as far as I am concerned). So if one, as a non reader of Classical Chinese, want to get some picture of what the original meant, you need to read a number of translations and compare them. Each one will convey some sense of what was meant.
Robert Henricks' translation of the work in question was published by Ballantine in 1992.
Working from the oldest extant manuscript, in which the order of the two sections of the work are opposite the order more familiar from later manuscripts, Henricks retitled the work "Te Tao Ching."
In this older version, the shorter, pithier executive summary
on how to rule comes first -- after all, the prince is a busy man and you can't expect him to read very long or very deeply -- the more philosophical section comes second.
All of the translations we have other than Henricks' started with a fundamentally incorrect assumption: that the work was primarily a work of philosophy and secondarily a work of practical statecraft.
Even in the case of Budo Renshu, there is evidence that the work was constructed from the notes of students and approved by Ueshiba for distribution to yudansha. And as George notes, everything else was cherrypicked and then massaged in the process of reorganization and translation.
In such a circumstance, the only definitive statement that is reasonably sound is that no definitive statements are terribly sound.