Taoism is the gentle philosophy of life founded by the ancient Taoists Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu.

Stefan Stenudd

Stefan Stenudd
About me
I'm a Swedish writer 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 the thought patterns in creation myths. My personal website:


Introduction to Taoism, and the distinction between Taoist philosophy and Taoist religion.

Lao Tzu

The first Taoist. The legendary founder of Taoism.

Tao Te Ching

The ancient source text of Taoism - each chapter explained.

The book

Tao Te Ching, the printed book and ebook. What it contains and how to get it.

Chapter 1 Versions

The first chapter of Tao Te Ching in 76 English versions.

James Legge's Tao Te Ching

The complete Tao Te Ching translation from 1891 by James Legge.

Aleister Crowley's Tao Te Ching

Tao Te Ching interpreted by the occultist Aleister Crowley, from 1923.

Chuang Tzu

The great 4th century BC Taoist Chuang Tzu and his writing.

Famous Taoists

The most prominent ones of the ancient Taoists.

Tao or Dao

What's with the spelling of Chinese words?

Tao Quotes

388 quotes from the Tao Te Ching sorted by topics.

Tao Themes

The 81 chapters of Tao Te Ching sorted by themes.

Taoist blog

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:

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

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

Taoism in Swedish
Taoismen på svenska

Books by Stefan Stenudd:

Cosmos of the Ancients, 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, 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, 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.

"If there were no laughter it would not be the Way."

Tao Te Ching 41

Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu.
The Lao Tzu Taoist Classic Translated and Explained


The superior student listens to the Way

And follows it closely.

The average student listens to the Way

And follows some and some not.

The lesser student listens to the Way

And laughs out loud.

If there were no laughter it would not be the Way.

So, it has been said:

The light of the Way seems dim.

The progress of the Way seems retreating.

The straightness of the Way seems curved.

The highest virtue seems as low as a valley.

The purest white seems stained.

The grandest virtue seems deficient.

The sturdiest virtue seems fragile.

The most fundamental seems fickle.

The perfect square lacks corners.

The greatest vessel takes long to complete.

The highest tone is hard to hear.

The great image lacks shape.

The Way is hidden and nameless.

Still only the Way nourishes and completes.

Laughing Out Loud

What Lao Tzu says about students is true for all mankind. Some listen and learn, others do it sporadically, and those with the least respect just laugh and call it absurd. If there were no people reacting like that, it would probably not be Tao, the Way. Tao is absurd to the thoughtless mind.

Certainly, not only Tao meets this response in minds unwilling to ponder. Almost every breakthrough in science has met the same reaction – not just among the unknowing public, but also from several fellow scientists. Revelations are easily ridiculed by those who didn't come up with them.

It happened a lot to Charles Darwin, when he presented his theories about the evolution of the species. There were lots of caricatures in which he was portrayed as an ape, since people misunderstood him as saying that we evolved from them.

What he did say, of course, was that we as well as the other apes have evolved from common ancestors. But loads of people, even many who regarded themselves as both learned and reasonable, were outraged at the idea.

When Albert Einstein presented his idea that time is not a constant, but has a speed depending on the speed of the object on which it is measured, there were few who could grasp it. Many scientists doubted it for years, until measurements could be made that supported his theory. He got his Nobel Prize for something else, because his theory of relativity was still in dispute.

Actually, when we examine the history of science we notice that almost all significant breakthroughs have met with resistance and ridicule.

The reception of Tao among Lao Tzu's contemporaries had little chance of being any different. Mankind is reluctant to accept change, whether that change is one of thought or one of material circumstances.

What We Expect

We look at the world with prejudice, because we don't see what is, but what we want and expect. Tao in its yielding humility seems dim, whereas we expect great truth to shine like gold. Its progress seems retreating, because it makes little noise and shuns the spectacular. Its course seems curved and twisted, because it accomplishes its goals indirectly and discreetly.

Virtue is perceived similarly. Its highest form is the most humble, wherefore it seems as low as if cherished only by failing people. That's also why its grandest perspectives seem lacking, and its firmest rules seem faltering. We tend to expect the supreme to have the most impressive features, so we doubt any truth that lacks magnificence.

We expect grandeur, but the Way leads to the infinitesimal. That's where the secrets of the universe hide, as is currently confirmed by the science of quantum physics, not to mention string theory. The world is so grand, we go to telescopes to explore it, but its essence is ever-present and should rather be searched in microscopes.

© Stefan Stenudd.


Lao Tzu, the legendary writer of Tao Te Ching.

Lao Tzu (Lao Zi), the legendary writer of Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing), left the Chinese emperor's court on a water buffalo, after growing tired of politics. He wrote the Tao Te Ching on the request of a border guard. Here is my translation and explanation, chapter by chapter. From the book:
Tao Te Ching: The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained

The 81 Chapters of Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
translated and explained by Stefan Stenudd.
  1   2   3  4   5   6  7   8   9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36
37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45
46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54
55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63
64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72
73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81

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

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.

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