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Topic Poster
leaf 10-10-26 22:04

Laozi, Zhuangzi and Taoism


  The founder of Taoism was Laozi, whose family name was Li and given name was Er. He lived in the later years of the Spring and Autumn Period, and worked as an archivist in the Imperial Library of the Zhou’s court. His masterpiece Tao Te Ching (The Book of the Way and Its Virtue), although with only about 5 000 characters, had a significant impact upon the thoughts of later generations. Laozi applied “Tao” to elucidating the origin and evolvement of the universe. Moreover, Laozi maintained that the characters and law to “Tao” could be applied to guide people’s thinking and behavior, which should be in conformance with the nature. Laozi believed that what appears soft and weak can actually defeat what is hard and strong, inasmuch as what looks fragile is hard in nature.

  Proficient in the philosophy of Laozi, Zhuangzi was an inheritor and promoter of Taoism. Zhuangzi, whose given name was Zhou, once worked as an official in charge of painting work at the town of Meng in the Song State. In the book bearing his name, Zhuangzi succeeded to and developed Laozi’s viewpoint that “Tao is defined by nature”, and claimed that everything exterior can be equated with self, and life and death are equal. What Zhuangzi had been pursuing is a spiritual realm of absolute freedom. Since there are so many similarities between Laozi and Zhuangzi in terms of thinking, descendants usually mention them comparably.