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 Kâu, dreamt that I was a butterfly, a butterfly flying about, feeling that it was enjoying itself. I did not know that it was Kâu. Suddenly I awoke, and was myself again, the veritable Kâu. I did not know whether it had formerly been Kâu dreaming that he was a butterfly, or it was now a butterfly dreaming that it was Kâu.
This mixture of absurdity and humor is the trademark of Chuang Tzu. For more about the person, go here:
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.
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:
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.
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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.
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The Greek philosophers and what they thought about cosmology, myth, and the gods. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
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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.