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Lao Tzu (Laozi)

The Tao-te Ching at MIT Classics

Chuang Tzu (Zhuangzi)


Notes from Thomas Merton. The Way of Chuang Tzu (NY: New Directions, 1965)

"The classic Ju philosophy of Confucius and his followers can be called a traditional personalism built on the basic social relationships and obligations that are essential to a humane life and that, when carried out as they should be, develop the human personalities of each person in his relation to others" (Merton 17-18).

"In the first chapter of the Tao Teh Ching, Lao Tzu distinguished between the Eternal Tao 'that cannot be named,' which is the nameless and unknowable source of all being, and the Tao 'that can be named,' which is the 'Mother of all things.' Confucius may have had access to the manifest aspects of the Tao 'that can be named,' but the basis of all Chuang Tzu's critique of Ju philosophy is that it never comes near to the Tao 'that can not be named,' and indeed takes no account of it" (Merton 20-21).

"To put it simply, the hero of virtue and duty ultimately lands himself in the same ambiguities as the hedonist and utilitarian. Why? Because he aims at achieving 'the good' as object" (Merton 22).

" 'My greatest happiness consists precisely in doing nothing whatever that is calculated to obtain happiness . . . ' " (Merton 24).

"The true tranquility sought by the 'man of Tao' is Ying ning, tranquility in the action of non-action, in other words, a tranquility which transcends the division between activity and contemplation by entering into union with the nameless and invisible Tao" (Merton 26).


See Chuang Tzu translation "Being Boundless" by Nina Correa:

(Ch. 2)

"If it was meant for everyone to follow a teacher, would there be a single person who'd be without a teacher for a moment? Does the quest for knowledge mean replacing one's true feelings with the teachings of someone else? Fools tend to group together. If you haven't yet succeeded in connecting with your own heart but have a sense of Right and Wrong, that's as silly as thinking you could set out for Yue today and arrive there yesterday. That would be like trying to make something out of nothing. To make something out of nothing - even the Great Yu wouldn't know how to do that. How could one as simple as me be able to follow those instructions!"
"Not knowing the place from which anything arises - this would be called preserving a bright light in the darkness"

Fu Hsi / Fu Xi

Contemporary Commentary[edit]

On Qi or ch'i by Xiansheng Bing F. YeYoung

"the primal energy underlying all matter"