Influential Past Teachers

Eremitism in Ancient China

Like Lao-tzu, Chuang-tzu is named as both the author of Taoist texts appearing in the late Warring States period of ancient China (4th century B.C.E.) and as the generic title for a set of Taoist texts added to and revised over the next several centuries. In either case, Chuang-tzu is a “brilliant figure,” notes commentator […]

Free & Easy Wondering

by Chuang Tzu, Translated by Burton Watson: IN THE NORTHERN DARKNESS there is a fish and his name is K’un.1 The K’un is so huge I don’t know how many thousand li he measures. He changes and becomes a bird whose name is P’eng.

The World

by Chuang Tzu, Translated by Burton Watson: EXTERNAL THINGS CANNOT be counted on. Hence Lung-feng was executed, Pi Kan was sentenced to death, Prince Chi feigned madness, E Lai was killed, and Chieh and Chou were overthrown.

Enjoyment in Untroubled Ease

by Chuang Tzu: In the Northern Ocean there is a fish, the name of which is Khwan,– I do not know how many lî in size. It changes into a bird with the name of Phang, the back of which is (also)– I do not know how many lî in extent. When this bird rouses […]

External Things

by Chuang Tzu: When wood rubs against wood, flames spring up. When metal remains by the side of fire, it melts and flows away. When the yin and yang go awry, then heaven and earth see astounding sights. Then we hear the crash and roll of thunder, and fire comes in the midst of rain and […]

Perfect Happiness

by Chuang Tzu: IS THERE SUCH A THING as perfect happiness in the world or isn’t there? Is there some way to keep yourself alive or isn’t there? What to do, what to rely on, what to avoid, what to stick by, what to follow, what to leave alone, what to find happiness in, what […]

The Way of Heaven

by Chuang Tzu: HORSES’ HOOFS ARE MADE for treading frost and snow, their coats for keeping out wind and cold. To munch grass, drink from the stream, lift up their feet and gallop this is the true nature of horses. Though they might possess great terraces and fine halls, they would have no use for them.