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.

"Excellent warriors are not violent."

Tao Te Ching 68

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


Excellent warriors are not violent.

Excellent soldiers are not furious.

Excellent conquerors do not engage.

Excellent leaders of people lower themselves.

This is called the virtue of no strife.

This is called the use of people's capacity.

This is called the union with Heaven.

It is the perfection of the ancients.

Peaceful Warriors

It would be going too far to state that Lao Tzu is a pacifist. In his book, he seems to admit to the necessity of war in some cases, or the impossibility to avoid it forever. What he does make clear, though, is that even in the case of war there are virtuous actions and non-virtuous ones.

Warriors and warlords may use violence, but they should not be violent. They should not jump to violent solutions. When they find no other way, they should mourn it and be as sparse with the violence as possible. A warrior who revels in violence and brutality is an abomination, also in the eyes of other warriors.

It's not even the most efficient way to wage a war. Violence promotes violent responses, and it makes the enemy increasingly committed to resist the onslaught. When a warlord uses excessive violence, his own troops will be dismayed and the enemy troops will find courage to fight back with tremendous strength and perseverance.

At length, he cannot win.

A furious soldier is inferior in battle. Wrath makes for poor judgment and a dimmed vision. He might be an awe-inspiring sight at first, but when the actual battle commences, he proves to lack many of the abilities necessary to succeed and survive.

It's an inferior and unbalanced state of mind, which may be a misguided way of dealing with the terrible situation, or the consequence of some equally misguided conviction of war being the righteous course of action.

The superior soldiers are the ones who keep being human, in the middle of battle, and continue to cherish peacetime values. That makes them complete also in moments of crisis.

The conqueror eager to engage in battle will soon enough enter one he cannot win. His narrow-minded preference for martial solutions will make him equally narrow-minded in battle. He will be easily outmaneuvered.

His strategy is unrefined and inferior. His perception is clouded. His haste to do battle may catch the enemy by surprise at first, but war is easier to start than to end. His attitude has the tools for the former, but not for the latter.

The superior conqueror waits and tries all other alternatives, before going to war. And when doing so, he is very well prepared. He regrets having to start a war and longs for its ending, so he knows how to reach the latter. If there was any way of succeeding without battle, he would have found it. In many cases there are such alternatives.

Caring Leaders

Lao Tzu moves on to leadership in general, not just on the battlefield. It's the same in every case. Good leaders lower themselves and act humbly in front of the people at their command. Otherwise their leadership will always be questioned, often opposed, and sometimes revolted.

The humble and caring leaders will be met accordingly. Then they can lead with ease.

The leader, who refrains from personal strife, will find people responding by doing their utmost to comply. They are encouraged by a leader who doesn't push a personal agenda, but the common interest. So, they take initiatives to bring their own abilities and make use of them.

If they were displeased with their leader, they would hide their capacities. They would only do what they had to, and do it without commitment. They would be of little use to their leader.

Such leadership, although skilled and wise, would hardly be something as grand as a union with Heaven. Nor is it in accordance with Tao.

Excellent leaders put their own interests aside, work for a common good together with their people, and are reluctant to spring into forceful action. They are indeed following the Way.

© 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.