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Lao-tsu and the Tao Te Ching

Saturday, 11 April 2009 00:00;
Taoism, China’s ancient and mysterious indigenous philosophy, like much that is traditional in the Chinese world, is little understood in the West. The word Tao; most commonly translated as ‘The Way’, although the original pictograph can also mean ‘Teaching’, is an elusive concept to come to grips with. Tao is the First Principle, that which gives rise to all appearances and phenomena and to which all things eventually return. To follow the Tao requires an enlightened understanding of the primordial source of all being. Since all things return to the Tao, to follow or live in the manner of this principle is to follow the natural order of the universe; a being at one with the Cosmos. The essence of Nature is seen as being one of never ending transformation that requires no action on the part of man. So we come to the concept of wu-wei or non-action. In…


Saturday, 11 April 2009 00:00;
Another and perhaps even greater writer on Taoism was the sage Chuang-tzu. (369 – 286 BCE) His collection of stories, poems and parables also known by his name is just as commonly loved and quoted by Chinese readers and Taoists as the Tao Te Ching. One of the wittiest and most playful books in world philosophy. — Victor H. Mair This collection is also a composition of the thoughts and musings of more than one writer over a successive period. It consists of thirty three chapters, the first seven, ‘inner books’ which were written by Chuang-tsu himself, fifteen ‘outer’ and eleven ‘mixed’ books all which would appear to have been written by his followers. The concepts covered within the Chuang-tsu are akin to those of the Tao Te Ching and so both Lao-tsu and Chuang-tsu in essence agree with one another on the Tao and the Te. However, Chuang-tsu places…

Sun-tsu and the Art of War

Saturday, 11 April 2009 00:00;
Little is known of Sun-tsu or master Su, author of the Taoist classic The Art of War. We do know he was a member of the landless aristocracy who had lost their lands during the early Spring and Autumn period. Unlike other members of his class however, who eked out a living as wandering academics, Sun-tsu was a mercenary for the state of Wu during the 6th century BC and was thus a contemporary of Kung-fu-tsu. According to tradition, King Helü of Wu hired Sun Tzu as a general in approximately 512 BC after finishing his military treatise, the Sun Tzu (named after the author, as was common in China prior to the Qin era). After his hiring, the kingdom of Wu, previously considered a semi-barbaric state, went on to become the most powerful state of the period by conquering Chu, one of the most powerful states in the Spring…