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The Book of Chuang Tzu

The Book of Chuang Tzu

by Chuang Tzu

Format: Paper book
Length: 352 pages
Short description: One of the great Taoist thinkers, Chuang Tzu, lived in the fourth century BC and is among the most enjoyable and intriguing personalities in the whole of Chinese philosophy.

Editorial review:
The Chuang Tzu. One of the most important Daoist books in the world and widely considered to be the partner to the Dao De Jing. Master Chuang lived after the author of the DDJ and has a much more historical grounding than Master Lao. This books influence on the world is still felt today, and the ideas contained within are relevant to almost every endeavour. In it the master playfully tells seemingly fantastical stories, which highlight some aspect of his thoughts regarding the Dao (the way), the De (the Power) and – fundamentally – the operation of all reality. That sounds like heavy stuff, but actually it is all woven around small stories about butchers, butterflies and mythical creatures. Not to mention the poking of fun at the Confucians of his time!

This is a joy to read from cover to cover and – once one has laughed at the puns and come back for a second time – the truly deep and involving philosophy comes to light. A Philosophy of acting in accordance with the Dao, being the way to happiness. A Philosophy of non interference with the operations of the world, or letting be. Of learning to act with the way so that small actions can have massive effects. Being the fulcrum. Or not getting in ones own way. Of not struggling against the reality of nature.

Put it this way: if Captain Ahab had read this book before going white whaling, he would have been able to return and live a long happy life.

This is a book it is easy to get wrong. Master Chuang does not teach Non-Acting, the ignoring of problems, rather he teaches to act without forcing. An almost gentile act that makes any struggle almost effortless. A follower of the Daoism of Master Chuang doesn’t curse the rain and run from eave to eave – getting more wet in the process – rather he/she walks with the rain and enjoys it. This is a book for people who like singing in the rain. Looking at the moon. Climbing mountains. Walking amongst parks. Playing games. Enjoying life by living with the world as a part of it, and not against it – locked up in your head awaiting death. This is the book of universal life.

Regarding this edition. All Chuang Tzu editions include long introductions. It clearly an ancient work and needs some context to be accessible. The introduction in this book is particularly good and covers all the important things one needs to know, such as who the historical man was, where he lived and how the lived. It points out some Chinese traditions to do with add extra chapters to existing works and that modern scholars think that Chuang himself only created an inner core of chapters, with the rest being added later.

If you have any interest in Daoism/Taoism then this is vital reading. It contrasts to the Dao De Jing in being far more readable and not so poetically inscrutable and shows that Daoism is truly a religion with a sense of humour.

Regards,

Basho

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The Book of Chuang Tzu (Penguin Classics)

  • Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

    boon

    9:32 am
    13/01/2011

  • What’s up biorobots? Because you’re interested in classics, I would really like to discuss with you the fact that experts found out that every human being gets a program at birth. All these programs are recorded in Collection (Classic) of the Mountains and Seas or Shan Hai Jing. Basically, all the info is documented by the use of images. It lists and describes them. Additionally, they found that I Ching (Chinese classic text I Ching) and Chinese classic text Dao De Jing (by Laotze) are commentaries to Shan Hai Ching. hieroglyph

    I Ching

    12:05 am
    18/01/2011

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