View Full Version : Introductory Taoist literature

02-14-2002, 05:00 AM
I know very little about Taoism and would like to learn more. I picked up a copy of the Lao Tzu for $10AU (i guess thats about $5US) at Border's the other day. It is interesting but I'm not sure its a good introductory text. COuld someone please recommend some books for me to read, also the order in which the books should be read as my knowledge progresses would be helpful.
Thank you in advance :)

02-14-2002, 04:53 PM
This website is a good start:

If your interest is in the application of taoist philosophy into ones own life, I would recommend any books by Master Jou Hwu such as but not limitted to: "The Dao of Meditation - The Way To Enlightenment" "The Dao of T'ai Chi Chuan"

Also Zen for dummiest is a fun and easy book that touches on a lot of the simple and basic ideas presented in Zen which has a lot overlappings with Taoism in the general sense.

The real idea though is to learn from yourself, through being aware and conscious of your experiences and looking inward to yourself for the answers. That's of course how many authors of the taoist literature came up with the words they decided to use to explain their own experiences.

Good Luck!

02-14-2002, 11:42 PM
Thank you for your reply Nexus, I will definitely look into your suggestions.
Your Zen For Dummies sugestion also reminded me of the ...For Beginners series of books, which I have found to be excellent texts for a whole range of complex concepts including religion, philosophy both modern and classical, and even modern physics. I wonder if there is a "Taoism for Beginners" and if its as good as some of the others.

Scott R. Brown
02-17-2002, 05:52 PM

Try "Tao, the Watercoiurse Way" and "the Way of Zen", by Alan Watts.

Both address Taoism and are the best primers for anyone interrested in Zen and Taoism. Zen is really Taoist Buddhism. Or rather Buddhism with a Taoist slant.

Repulsive Monkey
02-18-2002, 12:52 PM
His book "Tao - The Watercourse Way", is a very good suggestion for a healthy introduction into Taoism indeed. The concept of Wu Wei alone was made to clear for me by reading his chapter on it. You will find if you allow yourself to get completely immersed in these areas, that there are varying degrees of accuracy and comprehensibility to many texts and their authors around. This is just my opinion but having gained good introductory understanding into both Buddhism and Taoism, if that too interests you, then I would give a seal of approval to any such texts written/translated by Thomas Cleary. A few other books for further more advanced study which are very usuefull to own copies of are:-

"Luminous Mind" by the Very Venerable Kalu Rinpoche (Buddhism)

"Essential teachings" by His Holiness the Dalai Lama (Buddhism)

A favourite compaion of a book for eternal inspiration is also - "Tibets great Yogi Milrepa" by Evans-Wentz (Tibetan Buddhism)

And a specific Taoist book by Thomas Cleary which contains so much ancient historic Taoist texts has to be "Vitality, Energy, Spirit - A Taoist Source book".

02-19-2002, 08:12 AM
that no one has mentioned the Tao of Pooh or the Te of Piglet. Perhaps I don't know enough about "serious" Taoism but those books were extremely interesting and accessible.

In my opinion they are a great introduction to Taoism, and despite their use of A.A. milne's characters are very inciteful. In fact the use of Eeyore (sp?) is ingenious.

Just thoughts from some one who doesn't know much, but knows what he likes.

02-19-2002, 11:15 PM
Thanks for the suggestions everyone!

Repulsive Monkey
02-21-2002, 03:03 PM
Your suggestions are much more than valid, there were criminally overlooked. Both books are indeed good, warm ontroductions to Taoism.

02-27-2002, 07:35 AM
I honestly don't know much about Taoism, but those books by Benjamin Hoff were a great read.

03-05-2002, 06:09 PM
Any books by the late Alan Watts are worthwhile.
"The Watercourse Way" is a must-have.

Gia Fu Feng's translations of Lao Zi & Zhuang Zi are very good.

There is also a transalation of the Ma Wang Dui texts called "Te Tao Ching". It is based on a more recently discovered, detailed version of Lao Zi's classic.

Also, Thomas Cleary has translated some ancient texts.
These may be a bit more advanced but are still valuable.

Hope these help.

03-06-2002, 10:48 AM
I have to agree that Thomas Cleary's translations are some of the best I have read. If you are more interested in the actual Taoist practices and philosophies, then I recommend The Taoist Classics Set Vols. 1-4 translated by Thomas Cleary.
If you are interested in the Strategy aspect of Taoist warfare, I recommend Classics of Strategy and Counsel Set Vols. 1-3 also translated by Thomas Cleary. You can get each book individually or in the set at www.shambhala.com (http://www.shambhala.com) .

Happy reading!:D

Repulsive Monkey
03-07-2002, 05:41 AM
I persoanlly do advocate a lot of his work, and find him to be more detailed than most. I do know that Richard Wilhelm editions sell well too, however I have seen his I-ching, Secretof the Golden Flower, Tao te Ching and others translation, and feel there are below par in comparison. Cleary actually practiced a lot of what he translated, where as Wilhelm was very much an armchair critic.

03-07-2002, 03:37 PM
If anyone out there is interested in the Tao of health, check out these Daniel Reid books:
- "The Tao of Health, Sex and Longevity"
- "Guarding the Three Treasures".

Other great Tao books include:
- "The Chronicles of Tao : The Secret Life of a Taoist Master" by Deng Ming-Dao
- "365 Tao : Daily Meditations" by Deng Ming-Dao
- "The Taoist I Ching" by I-Ming Liu, Thomas Cleary (Translator)