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Tao Te Ching

Tao Te Ching is the most famous and translated work from the Taoist inheritance. Its traditional author, Lao Tzu, is the most popular in this matter. Even in ancient China, the work enjoyed a great popularity and was glossed both by Taoists and Confucianists. It contains philosophical elements from Taoism and of another type (Confucianist and Legalist).

First page from Tao Te Ching
The first page of Tao Te Ching -
(click the picture to enlarge)

According to tradition, the work originates in the 4-th. century BC, but recent discoveries showed that it is no early than the 4-th. or 3-rd. century. The oldest existing copy is from 206 or 195 BC.

Lao Tzu would have composed this work by the request of Yin Hsi, the Guardian of the Mountain Pass, while he began his wandering towards West.

It consists of 81 short chapters among which 37 form the first part, the Book of the Way (tao), and the next 44 form the Book of Te.

Its division in chapters is considered to be the result of the remarks of mysterious Heschang Gong (Han dynasty).

  • Philosophy of Tao Te Ching

The philosophy of this work focused on the following concepts: tao, wu (emptiness), wu -wei (nondoing) and Fu (the return of all things to their origins).

The goal of the Taoist philosophy is, according to the scholars, to become one with tao, inwardly achieving the universal rule of the return to origins. But for this purpose the aspirant has to achieve the emptiness (wu ) and simplicity (p'u), and to practice the nondoing.

In its second part, the work dwells on on the art of rule in accordance to tao.

However, we must not ignore the fact that Tao Te Ching is a composite work (although its unity is asserted or wished) which, the same way as I-ching, underwent influences and taints in the most various ways.

The second part of the book is undoubtfully compiled by the Confucianists because it dwells unlawfully much on the art of rule. The Taoist ethics wasn't interested in this aspect; moreover, its so-called philosophy, founded on an elementary dialectics, is nothing more than the fašade which hides the authentic Taoists elements, lost in confusion due to the successive and inconsistent versions and to the lack of understanding of the profane world.

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