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Lieh-tzu Book

Introduction to Lieh-tzu
(Ch'ung-hsu chen-ching)

Nowadays it is generally acknowledged that Lieh-tzu or Ch'ung-hsu chen-ching - the book attributed to Lieh-tzu - must have appeared much later, during Chin dynasty. The structure of the book is rather heterogeneous, which makes it difficult for us to distinguish any systemization of the Taoist philosophy.

  • Content and Philosophy

Lieh-tzu consists of several books such as Huang-ti, Confucius, Yang-tzu. It includes numerous stories and narrations dealing with various subjects such as: magic, witchcraft, dreams, cosmology, etc.

There are philosophical speeches and dialogues, legends and myths. Special attention is granted to advice regarding the adaptation of one's life to circumstances. The French translator, Grynpas, also points out the dispute with Confucian disciples - the chapter Dialogue between Lin Lei and Confucius, for example. (Book 1, 6)

"Comprised in a few sentences, we find here the moral extent and the conduct that are specific to life in classical Taoism", he states. In other words, the deliberate absence from public life and the refusal of assuming the moral precepts, characteristic of the Taoist attitude versus praise to the moral and ethical involvement in public life, specific to Confucians.

Then also, one should not overlook the notes about the immortals' islands - P'eng-lai, Fang-chang, Ying-chou - which represented the abodes of the saints - hsien. Even if they indicated allegorical characters, these descriptions led to many expeditions during the development of the religious Taoism (tao-chiao).

Speaking of Grynpas again, he opinionates that Lieh-tzu is definitely not an extension either of Lao-tzu's book or the Huang-ti's. Lieh-tzu is an independent book although it resumes many motives from Tao-te ching as the following quotation demonstrates: "The spirit of the depths does not die. It is the feminine mystery." (Benedykt Grynpas, Gallimard, 1961, p. 40)

  • English Version

A modern translation with short commentaries on the included books is signed by Eva Wong - Lieh-tzu: a Taoist Guide to Practical Living, Shambhala, 1995. The author is a good connoisseur of Taoism and also a practitioner. Her translation is remarkable by the talent to adapt an ancient Chinese text to the demands of the modern Western reader.

You may order this book from Amazon.com by clicking the following link https://amzn.to/2JA2ku2.

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