with the Living Tao
of Laozi and Zhuangzi

WELCOME all seekers and non-seekers alike… 

Although the work of the two greatest Taoists, Laozi and Zhuangzi, is featured here, the teachings and philosophies of many accomplished souls from various spiritual and philosophical disciplines can be found in Today’s Quote, the Video Discourses and the Blog. For example, in the VIDEO section, there are discourses on both Western and Eastern philosophical thought including talks on Buddhism and Hinduism as well as Taoism, and a series of TED Talks and TEDx Talks on various topics. Be sure to check out whatever interests you.






“You are familiar with the wisdom of those who know, but you have not yet learned the wisdom of those who know not.” Zhuangzi

In general, this website is dedicated to sensing one’s internal connection with “Heaven and Earth” by “listening with one’s heart” to the natural observations of Laozi and Zhuangzi, Their writings are considered the two foundational works of Philosophical or Metaphysical Taoism, sometimes referred to as “Lao-Zhuang” Philosophy, as opposed to “Huang (Yellow)-Lao (Old)” Taoism, named after the Yellow Emperor whose treatise on Classic Medicine would lead early Daoists during the Han Dynasty in the 2nd Century BC to search for immortality through the study of alchemy and eventually spread into religious Taoism with its many gods and goddess and superstitious rituals that are a major part of Taoism today.

This was not the case at all with Lao-Zhuang Philosophy or Metaphysical Taoism. Their quest encouraged followers to remain centered on the Tao, itself, and not on their egotistical selves. The idea was to follow the Tao by following the nature of things and engage only in spontaneous action rather than erratic actions from preconceived notions and selfish aims. Therefore, the readings and lectures here should not be casually read or logically deciphered but instead felt – very deeply – with the heart/mind or Shen by letting the words sink to that place where words disappear and meanings dissolve.

This will be possible when you visit the pages devoted to either LAOZI or ZHUANGZI or THE TAO, as they contain numerous video and audio discourses on these two prominent Taoists as well as their writings presented in narrated fashion. You can view or listen in a relaxed, open manner. Don’t rush. Allow the words to deeply touch your heart and dissolve into whatever feelings they evoke.

To acquire this proper state of mind mentioned above, you should FIRST view the following Guided Meditation (Awakening the Mind) by Alan Watts


Alan Watts- Guided Meditation (Awakening the Mind)



“The Quiescent is the master of the Hasty…In hasty action, self-mastery is lost.” Tao Te Ching, Ch. 26

A word about these two ancient Taoist sages, their similarities and differences. As the author of the Tao Te Ching, Laozi is considered by many scholars as the founder of philosophical or metaphysical Taoism, which has no resemblance to religious Taoism, a later offshoot, which exists throughout much of the Asian world today. Traditional accounts claim that Laozi was a 6th century BC contemporary of Confucius. However, some modern historians speculate that he lived during the 4th century BC Warring States period. Still, other historians doubt the historical validity of Laozi the person altogether and claim that the Tao Te Ching was a compilation of verses and quotes from anonymous authors.

On the other hand, Zhuangzi or Zhuang Zhou was an actual person who lived in the late 4th Century BC born in 369 BC in the state of Song near present-day Henan Province.  But like Laozi, not all of the Zhuangzi, the text that bears his name, is attributed solely to him. The text has 33 chapters, consisting of the first seven or “Inner” chapters, the next 15 or “Outer” chapters and the final 11 or “Mixed” chapters. Some historians and scholars contend that only the first seven “Inner” chapters are the actual work of Zhuangzi. They attribute the 15 “Outer” chapters to his disciples while the 11 “Mixed” chapters were believed to have been written by other hands. More traditional scholars cite that all 33 chapters belong to Zhuangzi, speculating that the terms apply to the titles in the three sections. They contend that the titles in the “Inner” chapters were derived from phrases inside the chapters. The titles in the “Outer” chapters came from the opening lines of the chapters, and the final “Mixed” chapters are a combination of the first two.




As for style, Laozi’s writing is both terse and poetic. Using few words, Laozi personifies his very topic – the Tao. It is likely he would point to the English dictum ‘less is best’ as the most direct path to the Tao. His rhetorical style also eschews the use of descriptive particles, relying instead on sparse, declarative statements with seemingly apparent contradictions. These are a clever way of identifying with the Tao, whose qualities of yin and yang are also seemingly contradictory, but in actuality are interdependent and quite complimentary. If read with the willful intent of reconciling his statements to decipher their meaning, one may well discard the book in frustration. Furthermore, if one hopes to unearth a profound message or ancient secret to the meaning of life, one will be terribly disappointed. Neither willful intent nor profound rumination works. Unlike Nature, the human mind is bound by ages of societal conditioning and distorted perceptions. It is this very conditioning that the subtext within Laozi’s use of contradictions is meant to bypass when read and felt with the nuances of the heart and not the mind.

“The path into the light seems dark,
the path forward seems to go back…” – Tao Te Ching, Ch 41

Laozi’s poetic style is somewhat mindful of alāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmi, the Persian poet and Sufi mystic of the 13 Century. Compare for example this verse from Chapter 1 of the Tao De Ching…

“Free from desire, you realize the mystery. Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations. Yet mystery and manifestations arise from the same source. This source is called darkness. Darkness within darkness. The gateway to all understanding.”

And this quote by Rumi, Spiritual Quotes from Rumi…

“Once you conquer your selfish self, all your darkness will change to light.”

Written in Classical Chinese, the Tao Te Ching often contained line endings that rhymed and allusions which conveyed explicit meaning to the implicit nature of the subtext for the scholars of his day. Much of this is lost on the myriad of modern translations. However, the work of an early 3rd Century A.D. commentator, Wang Bi, is responsible for reviving the Tao Te Ching and, in turn, metaphysical Taoism as opposed to religious Taoism and Confucianism, which dominated the Three Kingdoms period. Although he died at the youthful age of 23, Wang Bi’s commentaries on both the Tao Te Ching and the I Ching have done much to uncover the semantics of that early subtext. 

For example, in Chapter 40, Laozi states,”All things in this world come from yu (Being); yu comes from wu (Non-being). Wang Bi comments: “The things of this world have life by virtue of being; the origin of being is rooted in non-being. If fullness of being is to be attained, one must return to wu.”

The very beginning of Chapter 1 states: “The Tao that can be told of is not the Absolute Tao; the Names that can be given are not the Absolute Names.”  Wang Bi, however, translates the line somewhat differently, changing Absolute Tao (Way) to “Constant Way” and “Absolute Names” to “Constant Names.” He remarks:

“The way that can be told of and the name that can be named: these have to do with things and forms, which are not constant. Hence, (the Constant) cannot be told of and cannot be named.”

Therefore, we learn that the Tao is, itself, constant – without change – while everything else – all things and forms – changes. We also are given an implicit warning that the word Tao should be used with caution as there is in actuality nothing named Tao.



Zhuangzi was the more humorous and also the lesser known of these two foremost Taoist sages. No doubt that is due to the worldwide popularity of the Tao Te Ching with its succinct and often quoted 81 chapters. Nevertheless, Zhuangzi actually did more to develop the doctrine of Philosophical Taoism with its many paradoxical concepts and is renown among Asian scholars for his sardonic wit and quite accomplished storytelling. Using parables and allegories, many his own fictionalized accounts, Zhuangzi brilliantly conveyed his often complex doctrine and tongue-in-cheek critiques of Confucian and Chinese society in general, much like the modern day American humorist, Mark Twain. 

Writing in his text, The Way of Chuang Tzu, Thomas Merton remarks: “The humor, the sophistication, the literary genius and philosophical insight of Chuang Tzu are evident to anyone who samples his work.”

Although the Zhuangzi and the Tao Te Ching cover the same ground basically, they each do it in a very different manner and on different levels. The Tao Te Ching delves into acquiring a deeper spiritual understanding of the Tao in Chapters 1-37, known as the Tao Jing, while the second part known as the Te Jing centers on Te and the idea of “virtue,” especially in governing roles. The Zhuangzi, on the other hand, is not concerned with in government roles and political bickering and striving or any kind of striving for that matter. Life is meant to be lived and not wasted on frivolous matters like politics and societal practices. Zhuangzi encourages us to transcend all these mundane traps that keep us bound to the narrow-minded concepts of society. As his first chapter suggests he wants us to spread our wings by following Nature and fly high above the restrictions placed on us by society.

The Zhuangzi consists of a large collection of anecdotes, allegories, parables, and fables, which are often humorous or irreverent in nature. One of Zhuangzi’s recurring themes was his distaste for deliberate, contrived action, especially when it came to acts of benevolence. Instead, Zhuangzi followed the dictates of his predecessor, Laozi, who espoused wu wei wu (the action of no-action). This did not mean that one did nothing but rather that the wise sage acted spontaneously in accord with nature, letting things happen naturally and did not spend time deliberating or planning what he should do.

Keping Wang, commenting on wu wei in Laozi’s Tao Te Ching writes: “Heaven and Earth follow the way of naturalness without taking an arbitrary action. Yet, they incessantly generate one thing after the other. Similarly, the sage conforms to the way of naturalness without taking blind action; yet, he enables people to maintain their genuine selves and become what they should be.” 

Again, Thomas Merton writing in The Way of Chuang Tzu: “The non-action of the wise man is not inaction. It is not studied. It is not shaken by anything. The sage is quiet because he is not moved, Not because he wills to be quiet . . . “

Zhuangzi’s parables and allegories decried man’s ambition and passionate desire for external objects and his putting on affected airs. He saw this incessant striving as the cause of all of man’s frustration and anxiety.

“Where the fountains of passion
Lie deep,
The heavenly springs
Are soon dry

Compare this with the ending to Robert Frost’s poem Wild Grapes:

“The mind-is not the heart. I may yet live, as I know others live, To wish in vain to let go with the mind- Of cares, at night, to sleep; but nothing tells me That I need learn to let go with the heart.”

Addressing the human being’s incessant fear of death, Zhuangzi writes in his poem The True Man:

The true men of old
Knew no lust for life,
No dread of death.
Their entrance was without gladness,
Their exit, yonder,
Without resistance.
Easy come, easy go.

Compare that with a quote often attributed to Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain): “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”

Unlike most of the Chinese philosophers of his day, particularly the Confucians, Zhuangzi was critical of their distinctions when it came to moral and personal duty. The Zhuangzi instead depicted the sage as a carefree wanderer, much like our own Walt Whitman, having become one with “the Way”  by following nature.

While there are numerous online versions and downloadable pdf versions of the Tao Te Ching by various translators, the only full 33-chapter version of the Zhuangzi available online is

Learn more about LAOZI          Learn more about ZHUANGZI          Learn more about THE TAO

Links to Important Taoist ONLINE TEXTS



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