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Taoism: The Enduring Tradition

by Russell Kirkland

Format: Paper book
Length: 304 pages
Short description: A major scholarly work on Taoism/Daoism shattering some western illusions.

Editorial review:
This book is not trying to be a beginner’s guide. Far too often there exists only beginners guides on subjects. Mainly because, I suspect, they are easier to write than in-depth works. But where does one go after reading them all? Thankfully such contentious works as this exist and so this is a not a book for the beginner in Daoism.

This is a monster of a book.

Not that it is so very long. Rather because it forces you to look (again) at your beliefs in a way few books can manage. It is the largest work that will ask you to doubt what you have read anywhere else. That enables this work to sit very well alongside copies of the Dao De Jing, throwing contrast on the poetry found in that masterwork. In this case Kirkland scoffs at what is commonly known as “Philosophical Daoism” as distinct from “Religious Daoism”, disregarding it as a creation of the west. After reading this, I must agree with him. This is a very in-depth examination of Daoism’s history and methods. From Shamanism in the ancient world to the modern religious practice, this opens up the entire thing examines it and then places it all in context. As such, it is vital reading for anyone seriously considering declaring themselves a Daoist, or who is interested in Daoist thought beyond the Winnie The Pooh kind.

Chapters include a large discussion on the Celestial Masters, the rites of Daoism, other major – and hard to get in English – works still being discovered and a thoroughgoing examination of the relationship between Daoism and Confucianism.

I have read much of Kirkland’s works on Daoism and, while I think he doesn’t get it fully, his is a sobering voice amongst the sea of “lite” books covering the subject. This is fairly heavy stuff and I read it over a number of weeks, but I am glad that I did. There is nothing like holding you beliefs and understandings up and having someone beat them to a pulp in front of you. This is the Daoist equivalent of a Strong Christian reading Richard Dawkins. If you come through the other side of this book unscathed then Daoism is for you. You are a Daoist.

The key is simple. The realisation of actual Daoist belief is no better highlighted by combining the knowledge from the Dao De Jing / Zhuangzi with this work. After all, all is relative. The ancient’s many methods of practising Daoism is only a highlight to the core principle and that doesn’t invalidate anything you may do. Only that you are, like they, revolving around the Dao.

Like I said, this one is a monster. Read it!



This is a great book for highlighting the need for this website as the only Amazon review one stars the work, dismissing it entirely and suggesting other works. To miss this one is a mistake.

Buy on Amazon (Note: There is a Hardback/Paperback and kindle edition. Paperback is cheapest)

Taoism: The Enduring Tradition
Paper back:
Taoism: The Enduring Tradition

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