The Essential Tao


There are two classic chinese books describing the essential philosophy and practice of the Tao, made public long ago as maps of the way to the way: Tao Te Ching and Chuang-tzu.

Both these works have long outgrown cultural boundaries and are widely regarded as classics of world literature.
Composed over two thousand years ago , Tao Te Ching and Chuang-tzu are among the world’s most ancient and honored books of practical wisdom.Their subject matter ranges widely, from politics and economy to psychology and mysticism, addressing the needs and interests of a diverse readership.
The Tao Te Ching is an anthology of ancient sayings,poems and proverbs; its compilation is attributed to the prototypical Lao-tzu, “The Old Master,” who is regarded as one of the prototypical greatest ancestors of Taoism. Chuang-tzu, traditionally said to have been written by a Taoist named Chuang Chou, is a collection of stories and monologues illustrating and expounding the teachings of the Tao Te Ching. Together they present the philosophical and practical core of classical Taoism.

Tao Te Ching
True Words Are Not Beautiful

True words are not beautiful,
beautiful words are not true.
The good are not argumentative,
the argumentative are not good.
Knowers do not generalize,
generalists do not know.
Sages do not accumulate anything
but give everything to others,
having more the more they give.
The Way of heaven
helps and does not harm.
The way for humans
is to act without contention.

Attain the Climax of Emptiness

Attain the climax of emptiness,
preserve the utmost quiet:
as myriad things act in concert,
I thereby observe the return.
Things flourish,
then each returns to its root.
Returning to the root is called stillness:
stillness is called return to life,
return to Life is called the constant;
Knowing the constant is called enlightenment.
Acts at random, in ignorance of the constant, bode ill.
Knowing the constant gives perspective;
this perspective is impartial.
Impartiality is the highest nobility;
the highest nobility is divine,
and the divine is the way.
This Way is everlasting,
not endangered by physical death.

Translated and presented by THOMAS CLEARY