BY STEFAN STENUDD
I'm a Swedish writer and aikido instructor. In addition to fiction, I've written books about Taoism as well as other East Asian traditions. I'm also a historian of ideas, researching the thought patterns in creation myths. My personal website: stenudd.com
Introduction to Taoism, and the distinction between Taoist philosophy and Taoist religion.
The first Taoist. The legendary founder of Taoism.
The ancient source text of Taoism - each chapter explained.
Tao Te Ching, the printed book and ebook. What it contains and how to get it.
The first chapter of Tao Te Ching in 76 English versions.
The complete Tao Te Ching translation from 1891 by James Legge.
Tao Te Ching interpreted by the occultist Aleister Crowley, from 1923.
The great 4th century BC Taoist Chuang Tzu and his writing.
The most prominent ones of the ancient Taoists.
What's with the spelling of Chinese words?
The 81 chapters of Tao Te Ching sorted by themes.
388 quotes from the Tao Te Ching sorted by topics.
All the 81 chapters of the Tao Te Ching in a blog, where you can comment.
How to get in touch with me.
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.
The many life force beliefs all over the world, ancient and modern, explained.
Creation stories from around the world, and the ancient cosmology they reveal.
Taoismen på svenska
Books by Stefan Stenudd:
Cosmos of the Ancients
The Greek philosophers and what they thought about cosmology, myth, and the gods, by Stefan Stenudd. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
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.
Basic Concepts of the Peaceful Martial Art
Aikido principles, philosophy, and basic ideas. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
Taoist Philosophy and Religion
Tao Chia and Tao Chiao
In its original form, Taoism is not a religion. Gods and the afterlife are vague, almost non-existent. It is all about here and now: how to live a pleasant life, without causing unnecessary commotion or distress.
Tao, the Way, is a kind of natural law behind all of creation. The one who can harmonize with it is sure to find bliss.
Basically, there are two forms of Taoism: the philosophy and the religion. The former, which is the oldest, is called Tao chia
(also spelled Dao jia
), and the latter Tao chiao
). When westerners talk about Taoism as a religion, they refer to Tao chiao - often unknowingly. Tao chia has little to do with gods, the afterlife, and such matters. It is a philosophy for the here and now.
The two major sources to Tao chia, the Taoist philosophy, are Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu, who both lived several centuries BC. Lao Tzu was the legendary writer of Tao Te Ching, the foremost classic of Taoism. Chuang Tzu has left behind a book named after him, with 33 chapters (whereof at least the first nine are regarded as of his making).
On this website you find both these major works of Taoist philosophy. See the menu on the left.
Taoist religion, Tao chiao
, which is not treated on this website, consisted of a number of rituals and traditions by which to prolong one's life, reach spiritual insight, and come to peace with existence. It is a very rich and complex tradition of mysticism and magical rites that emerged during the later part of the Han dynasty, around the beginning of the Christian Era.
They referred to Tao Te Ching and other Taoist sources, but did so quite liberally, with interpretations that sometimes got very far from the texts they leaned on.
For example, their ideas about longevity were based on Tao Te Ching's chapter 33, which ends with a line that they interpreted: "The one who dies without perishing gets a long life." Findings of the 1970's in Mawangdui show that the accurate reading of that line should be: "The one who dies without being forgotten gets a long life." This form of longevity - in the memory of others - is an old wisdom also found in many other cultures.
Tao Te ching actually expresses no belief in a significantly prolonged life, and certainly not an eternal one.
So, I dare say that the major sources of Taoism agree that Taoism is a philosophy, and not much of a religion.
Tao Te Ching - the Book
Tao Te Ching - The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained.
The great Chinese Taoist philosophy classic by Lao Tzu translated, and each of the 81 chapters extensively commented. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
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.