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Chuang Tzu

Chuang Tzu dreaming of a butterfly. Ink by Ike no Taiga, 18th Century.

The Taoist Philosopher's Texts


Next to Lao Tzu, the legendary writer of Tao Te Ching, Chuang Tzu (Zhuang Zi) is the most famous of the Chinese Taoists. He lived in the 4th century BC.



       The ink painting above, by the Japanese 18th century artist Ike no Taiga, shows Chuang Tzu dreaming about being a butterfly. That has always been by far the most popular Chuang Tzu motif in art. The scene is from the end of the second chapter of his book, which reads:


Formerly, I, Kwang Ku, dreamt that I was a butterfly, a butterfly flying about, feeling that it was enjoying itself. I did not know that it was Ku. Suddenly I awoke, and was myself again, the veritable Ku. I did not know whether it had formerly been Ku dreaming that he was a butterfly, or it was now a butterfly dreaming that it was Ku.


       This mixture of absurdity and humor is the trademark of Chuang Tzu. For more about the person, go here:

Famous Taoistis


       There is one book of 33 chapters attributed to him. According to tradition, Chuang Tzu wrote the first seven chapters, called the 'inner' chapters, of the book given his name. His students are said to have written the remaining 'outer' chapters.

       Below is the complete translation of Chuang Tzu by James Legge, published in 1891. You can read them in any order, since they are not connected in a consecutive way.


Chuang Tzu


Chuang Tzu

  1. Enjoyment in Untroubled Ease


  2. The Adjustment of Controversies


  3. Nourishing the Lord of Life


  4. Man in the World, Associated with other Men


  5. The Seal of Virtue Complete


  6. The Great and Most Honoured Master


  7. The Normal Course for Rulers and Kings


  8. Webbed Toes


  9. Horse's Hooves


  10. Cutting Open Satchels


  11. Letting Be, and Exercising Forbearance


  12. Heaven and Earth


  13. The Way of Heaven


  14. The Revolution of Heaven


  15. Ingrained Ideas


  16. Correcting the Nature


  17. The Floods of Autumn


  18. Perfect Enjoyment


  19. The Full Understanding of Life


  20. The Tree on the Mountain


  21. Thien Tsze-fang


  22. Knowledge Rambling in the North


  23. Kang-sang Kh


  24. Hs W-kwei


  25. Tseh-yang


  26. What Comes from Without


  27. Metaphorical Language


  28. Kings who have wished to resign the Throne


  29. The Robber Kih


  30. Delight in the Sword Fight


  31. The Old Fisherman


  32. Lieh Y-khu


  33. Thien Hsi



The Book of Chuang Tzu.

The Book of Chuang Tzu

A modern translation of Chuang Tzu, by Martin Palmer and Elizabeth Breuilly.
See the book at Amazon




My Taoism Books:


Tao Te Ching - The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Tao Te Ching

The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. The great Taoist philosophy classic by Lao Tzu translated, and each of the 81 chapters extensively commented. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

       More about the book here.


Tao Quotes - the Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Tao Quotes

The Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. 389 quotes from the foremost Taoist classic, divided into 51 prominent topics. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

       More about the book here.



My Other Websites:


I Ching Online

The 64 hexagrams of the Chinese classic I Ching and what they mean in divination. Try it online for free.


Qi Energy Exercises

The ancient Chinese life energy qi (chi) explained, with simple instructions on how to exercise it.


Life Energy

The many ancient and modern life force beliefs all over the world explained.


Creation Myths

Creation stories from around the world, and the ancient cosmology they reveal.


Taoismen på svenska


Other Books by Stefan Stenudd:


Cosmos of the Ancients. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Cosmos of the Ancients

The Greek philosophers and what they thought about cosmology, myth, and the gods. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


QI - increase your life energy. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Qi - Increase Your Life Energy

The life energy qi (also chi or ki) explained, with exercises on how to awaken, increase and use it. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


Aikido Principles. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Aikido Principles

Basic Concepts of the Peaceful Martial Art
Aikido principles, philosophy, and basic ideas. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


Sunday Brunch with the World Maker. Novel by Stefan Stenudd. Sunday Brunch with the World Maker

Fiction. A brunch conversation slips into the mysterious, soon to burst beyond the realm of possibility. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


Stefan Stenudd, Swedish author of fiction and non-fiction. Stefan Stenudd


About me

I'm a Swedish author and aikido instructor. In addition to fiction, I've written books about Taoism and other East Asian traditions. I'm also an historian of ideas, researching ancient thought and mythology. Click the image to get to my personal website.

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