Taoism > Philosophy

Taoist Philosophy

Most of the Taoism philosophy has been developed by Lao-tzu in his Tao-te ching. The book is considered the Bible of Taoism because it is the core of its philosophy. In short, Lao-tzu talks about Tao and its characteristics (Te) in the natural world. Also he teaches the sages (saints) the way to follow in order to emulate the Tao and also the way the political Rulers should behave in order to lead the world to order.

The teachings of Lao-tzu are further developed by his most important disciple: Chuang-tzu. In his homonymous book he further developed the Taoist philosophy. He did this through various stories, anecdotes and metaphors. He also criticized the teachings of Confucius mainly based on the ethical approach of rightness and humanness as capital features of the rulers.

Lieh-tzu is the next Taoist master that did a lot to the development of the Taoist wisdom. His work - The Book of Perfect Emptiness - consists in various stories, biographical notes, parables and metaphors dealing with the Taoist basics. He described the practice of the Tao meditation that enabled him attain the final goal of Taoists: the unity with the Tao.

The thinking of Yang-tzu illustrates the hedonistic side of Taoist philosophy. His writing is included in Lieh-tzu's book. Through a dialogue between two political characters he explained the art of nurturing the life principle which is by far one of the most important Taoist teachings.

Finally, Lao-tzu's thinking is summarized by the Chinese historian Ssu-ma Ch'ien in his Historical Records: Lao-tzu cultivated the Tao […] the chief aim of his studies being how to keep himself concealed and remain unknown.

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