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The emphasis is on the right view and understanding of existence, the Way of the cosmos, and the text sets out to transmit an informed awareness of being that leads to personal harmony. The Taoist inclination to refer to the natural background to human existence when considering the human is widely in evidence. The literary style is terse and often cryptic, so that multiple interpretations of the individual sections are often possible, but the essence of the work is clear, in communicating an approach to life which is in accord with the natural, and so conducive to spiritual tranquillity and resilience.


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Like the Homeric texts, the Tao Te Ching has been ascribed to a single author and to many. Archaeological evidence continues to move the earliest evidence of the text further back in time, but as yet the claims as to single authorship or an effort of compilation by many writers cannot be resolved.

Regardless of authorship, the text remains immensely influential in the later development of Taoist thought and practice. Classical Chinese culture was inextricably linked to the three distinct but complementary approaches to life and thought enshrined in Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism.

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Tao Te Ching

See Article History. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Perhaps this is because Laozi was a type of moral skeptic: he rejected both righteousness and benevolence, apparently because he saw them as imposed on…. The first mention of Laozi is found in another early classic of Daoist speculation, the Zhuangzi 4th—3rd century bce , so called after the name of its author. Neither of the….

The Tao Te Ching, Part Two

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Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching

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Bibliography

Indiana University Bloomington - The Dao de jing.