Daoism An Introduction

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-04-15
  • Publisher: I. B. Tauris
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"The way that can be told is not the eternal Way; the name that can be named is not the eternal Name." So begins the first verse of the mysteriousDao De Jing, foundation text of the ancient Chinese religion of Daoism. Often attributed to semi-mythical sage Laozi, the origins of this enigmatic document--which probably came into being in the third century BCE--are actually unknown. But the tenets of Daoism laid down in theDao De Jing, and in later texts like theYi Jing(orBook of Changes), continue to exert considerable fascination, particularly in the West, where in recent years they have been popularized by writers such as the novelist Ursula K LeGuin. In this fresh and engaging introduction to Daoism, Ronnie L. Littlejohn discusses the central facets of a tradition which can sometimes seem as elusive as the slippery notion of "Dao" itself. The author shows that fundamental to Daoism is the notion of "Wu-wei," or non-action: a paradoxical idea emphasising alignment of the self with the harmony of the universe, a universe in continual flux and change. This flux is expressed by the famous symbol of Dao, the "taiji" representing yin and yang eternally correlating in the form of a harmonious circle. Exploring the great subtleties of this ancient religion, Littlejohn traces its development and encounters with Buddhism, its expression in art and literature, its fight for survival during the Cultural Revolution, and its manifestations in modern-day China and beyond.

Author Biography

Ronnie L. Littlejohn is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Asian Studies at Belmont University, Nashville. He is the author of many articles in the field of Chinese and comparative philosophy, and also of two previous books on ethics and theology.

Table of Contents

Telling the Story of Daoism
The Sprouting of the Trunk of Daoism
The Composite Trunk of Daoism
The Masters who Nurtured the Trunk of Daoism
Growth of the Daoist Vine During the Qin and Han Dynasties
The Earliest Branches of Daoism
The Spread of Celestial Masters Daoism
New Vines and the Masters Who Began Them
Daoism in the Tang: Robust Maturity of the Vine
Scrambling and Overlapping Vines and Stems of Daoism in the Daoism of the Five Dynasties
Daoism Overgrows Chinese Culture: the Ming and Qing Dynasties
Spreading the Daoist Vine at Home and Abroad
A Quick Guide to Pronunciation
Glossary of Titles
Glossary of Names and Terms
Illustrations, Maps and Picture Credits
Works Cited
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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