Daoism of Lao-zi and Zhuan-zi

Extracted from The Six Patriarchs of Chinese Humanism by its

author: Peter M.K. Chan

 

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Table of Content

 

Introduction

 

Chapter One

 The Naturalism of

Lao-zi

 

1.1 About Lao-zi

1.2 The Dao of Nature

1.3 The Operation of Dao

1.4 The Sagely Way of Life

1.5 Government by Non-action

1.6 The Contrarianism of Lao-zi

 

 

Chapter Two

  The Daoism of

Zhuan-zi

 

2.1 Wonderment about Dao and Nature

2.2 Problems of the Human Mind

2.3 Program of Self-Restoration

2.4 The Meaning of Death

2.5 The Sagely Way of Being

2.6 Debunking the Legacy of the Sage-kings

2.7 Embrace All without Distinctions

 

 Appendix

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Note:  ebooks about 

 these patriarchs of Chinese humanism

are available at:

http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=4267121

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 Peter M.K. Chan is accessible at pmkchan@gmail.com

 

Introduction

The purpose of this book is to by pass all intermediaries so as to let Lao-zi and Zhuan-zi to speak directly and systematically for themselves. What it offers is a systematic and friendly version of what Lao-zi and Zhuan-zi had actually said in the very documents that are known to contain their words, namely: the Dao Der Jing and the Book of Zhuan-zi. It will be seen that contrary to popular understanding, the Daoism of Lao-zi and Zhuan-zi is not really mystically nor mysterious. It should be characterized rather as metaphysically sophisticated and anti-establishment.

 

For those who are not already in the know, the period in which our two Daoist patriarchs had to find themselves is known in Chinese history as the Warring State Period (ca.475 – 221 BC). This was a period of political disorder and unceasing inter-regional conflict, leading eventually to the disintegration of the once glorious Zhou Dynasty (ca.1027BC 249 BC). The issues with which they were concerned are: What is wrong with man and society? How could world order and social harmony be brought about?

 

Unlike Confucius and Moh-zi, Lao-zi, who was older and supposedly wiser, did not think that moral teachings and religious sanctions, much less authoritarian rule by way of law, are able to cure the problem of man and society. According to him, human society would naturally become well in and of itself when those who govern would just let people be, and those self-appointed preachers of humaneness and righteousness (such as Confucius and Moh-zi) would just keep their mouths shut. All that is required is for people to abandon the way of man and live according to the Way or Dao of Nature.

 

This rather layback and somewhat anarchistic tendency of Lao-zi was further developed by Zhuan-zi (ca.369-286 BC) into what could be called a Daoist philosophy of life and society. The life of man, he said, is both troublesome and short. It is troublesome because the human mind is not only obsessed with fame and gain, but obstinate with its other pursuits as well. Abandon worldly affairs therefore, he declared, and transform with the Way of Nature. Part of what that entails is to be content with what one has or has not got, and accept death when it arrives. Further, in view of the finitude of knowledge, the relativity of all values, and the futility of all arguments, it was Zhuan-zi’s view that it is better not to alienate anyone, but to embrace all without distinctions. As Lao-zi before him, he was also very critical of the doctrine of humaneness and righteous, as well as the system of government that was instituted by the ancient Sage-kings.

 

It is my hope that by the end of this book, readers would agree that the Daoism of Lao-zi and Zhuan-zi is not at all mystical as some advertisers had made it out to be. It is also my hope that they have found the actual words of these Daoist humanists and their philosophy to be spiritually refreshing. In a world where money runs thick and fast in people’s veins, to reflect upon these Daoist insights from time to time is both therapeutic to body and mind.

 

Since the life of a man is not only short but also difficult, it is perhaps wiser not to preoccupy onself with fame and gain. That would save one the trouble of having to contend with worries and anxieties day in and day out. Contentment is indeed the root of happiness. And good health is more important than wealth.

 

As it takes all kinds to make a world, it is better to try and embrace all regardless of their views. Be concerned about their welfare without partiality. Accept contrasts and differences, and dwell on complementarities as well as commonalities. In this way, not only would controversies and conflicts be averted, world peace and social harmony may also be realized in the end.

 

 

 

 Note: ebooks about

these patriarchs of Chinese humanism

are available at:

http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=4267121