| Some two and a half thousand years ago two enduring
philosophic-religious traditions emerged in China. One of these,
Confucianism, is not directed towards exploiting or exploring
Mystical Wisdom or Spirituality the other, Taoism, is.
Lao Tzu was one of the earlier figures of note in the Taoist
tradition, his teachings are associated with a central Taoist
text called the Tao Te Ching - a title which has been translated
as "the Way and its Power".
Taoism holds that those who live in full sympathy and harmony
with original nature are also, inevitably and beneficially,
attuned to the Way. Those who defy original nature rarely find
The influence and appeal of Taoism was much enhanced by the
writings of one Chuang Tzu who lived some two centuries after Lao
Please be prepared for some "soul-force" that might be held to reside within many of these quotations!!!
Disdain for Material Things
Chuang Tzu put on cotton clothes with patches in them, and
arranging his girdle and tying on his shoes,
( to keep them from falling off)
went to see the prince of Wei.
"How miserable you look, Sir!" Cried the prince. "It is poverty,
not misery", replied Chuang Tzu. "A man who has TAO cannot be
miserable. Ragged clothes and old boots make poverty, not
Distrust of Intellect
"Heaven cannot but be high. Earth cannot but be broad. The sun and moon cannot
but revolve. All creation cannot but flourish. To do so is their TAO".
"But it is not from extensive study that this may be known, nor by dialectical skill
that his may be made clear. The true sage will have none of these".
Chuang Tzu Chap 22
It was the time of the autumn floods. Every stream poured into the river, which
swelled in it's turbid course. The banks receded so far from one another that it was
impossible to tell a cow from a horse.
Then the Spirit of the River laughed for joy that all the beauty of the earth was
gathered to himself. Down the stream he journeyed east, until he reached the ocean.
There, looking eastwards and seeing no limit to the waves, his countenance changed.
As he gazed over the expanse, he sighed and said to the Spirit of the Ocean, "A vulgar
proverb says that he who has heard but part of the truth thinks no one equal to
himself. And such a one am I".
"When formerly I heard people detracting from the learning of Confucius or
underrating the heroism of Poh I, I did not believe. But now that I have looked upon
your inexhaustibility - alas for me had I not reached your abode, I should have been
for ever a laughing-stock of those of comprehensive enlightenment".
Chuang Tzu Chap 17
Yearning for Divine Edification
The intelligence of the mean man does not rise beyond bribes and letters of
recommendation. His mind is beclouded with trivialities. Yet he would penetrate the
mystery of TAO and of creation, and rise to participation in the ONE. The result is
that he is confounded by time and space; and that trammelled by objective existences,
that he fails apprehension of that age before anything was.
But the perfect man, - he carries his mind back to the period before the beginning.
Content to rest in the oblivion of nowhere, passing away like flowing water, he is
merged in the clear depths of the infinite.
Chuang Tzu Chap 32
Only the perfect man can transcend the limits of the human and yet not withdraw
from the world, live in accord with mankind and yet suffer no injury himself. Of the
worlds teaching he learns nothing. He has that within which makes him independent
If the eye is unobstructed, the result is sight. If the ear is unobstructed, the result is
hearing. If the nose is unobstructed, the result is smell. If the mouth is unobstructed,
the result is taste. If the mind is unobstructed, the result is wisdom.
Chuang Tzu Chap 26
The love of a Sage for his fellows likewise finds expression amongst mankind.
Were he not told sop, he would not know that he loved his fellows. But whether he
knows it or whether he does not know it, whether he hears it or whether he does not
hear it, his love for his is without end, and mankind cease not to repose therein.
Chuang Tzu Chap 25
Purity of Heart
When Tzu Kung went south to the Ch'u State on his way back to
the Chin State, he passed through Han-yin. There he saw an old
man engaged in making a ditch to connect his vegetable garden
with a well. He had a pitcher in his hand, with which he was
bringing up water and pouring it into the ditch, great labour
with very little result. "If you had a machine here," cried Tzu
Kung, "in a day you could irrigate a hundred times your present
area. The labour required is trifling as compared with the work
done. Would you like to have one?" "What is it?" asked the
gardener. "It is a contrivance made of wood," replied Tzu Kung,
"Heavy behind and light in front. It draws up water as you do
with your hands but in a constantly flowing stream. It is called
a well sweep." Thereupon the gardener flushed up and said, " I
have heard from my teacher that those who have cunning implements
are cunning in their dealings and that those who are cunning in
their dealings have cunning in their hearts, and that those who
have cunning in their hearts cannot be pure and incorrupt, and
that those who are not pure and incorrupt are restless in spirit
and not fit vehicles for TAO. It is not that I do not know of
these things. I should be ashamed to use them."
Therefore, the truly great man, although he does not injure others, does not credit
himself with charity and mercy
( these are natural to him )
He does not seek gain, but does not despise his followers who do. He struggles not
for wealth, but does not take credit for leaving it alone… The ranks and emoluments
of the world are to him no cause for joy, it's punishments and shame no cause for
Chuang Tzu Chap 17
Sorrow and happiness are the heresies of virtue; joy and anger lead astray from
TAO; love and hate cause loss of virtue. The heart unconscious of sorrow and
happiness – that is perfect virtue. One, without change – that is perfect repose.
Without any obstruction – that is the perfection of the unconditioned. Holding no
relations with the external world, - that is perfection of the negative state. Without
blemish of any kind, - that is the perfection of purity.
Chuang Tzu Chap 15
"Joy, anger, sorrow, happiness, find no place in that man's breast; for to him all
creation is ONE. And all things being thus united in ONE, his body and limbs are but
as dust of the earth, and life and death, beginning, and end, are but as night and day,
and cannot destroy his peace. How much less such trifles as gain or loss, misfortune
or good fortune?
Chuang Tzu Chap 21
Communion with God
"Man may rest in the eternal fitness; he may abide in the everlasting; and roam from
the beginning to the end of all creation. He may bring his nature to a condition of
ONE, he may nourish his strength; he may harmonise his virtue, and so put himself
into partnership with God.
Chuang Tzu Chap 19
"He is perfect," replied Tzu Fang "In appearance, a man; in reality, God.
Unconditioned himself, he falls in with the conditioned, to his own greater glory. Pure
himself he can still tolerate others. If men are without TAO, by a mere look he calls
them to a sense of error, and causes their intentions to melt away".
Chuang Tzu Chap 21
Continue through our series of "Central" Spiritual Insights pages to access further sets of quotations and quotes
that seem to recognise a pronounced emphasis on such
aspects of spirituality as a Disdain for Materialism, a Distrust of the Intellect, a Preference for
Divine Inspiration, Charity, Purity of Heart, Humility and Meekness from each of several major World Religions
( Buddhist, Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Sikh, Taoist and Vedic or Hindu ).