Eastern Spirituality in America: Selected Writings

By Robert S. Ellwood | Go to book overview

IV

TAOISM

The ancient Chinese spiritual tradition known as Taoism—the way of the Way—presents itself as the path of strength through yielding, of wisdom through stillness and unlearning, of leading through seeming not to lead, of accomplishing all things through not-doing. It is the way of water that seeks the downward course of least resistance yet in time wears away the hardest rock, of the sapling that though bent nearly to the ground will spring back upright again. It is fitting, then, that such a tradition should penetrate the American consciousness only in a subtle and inward way. Taoism came to America through no impassioned Vivekananda or enigmatic Blavatsky. Yet certain of its books have been read, and its attitudes—some‐ times appropriately unrecognized by most—have entered American arenas from the philosophy of sport to cinema hits, and martial arts studios, where a taste at least of Taoist flavor can be savored, are far more common than Zen or Vedanta centers.

Taoism in China has generated a full-fledged religion, with a rich pantheon and elaborate rites, together with yogic and alchemical practices centering around the development of ch' i, spiritual energy, and immortality. The Taoist heavens and grottos of immortals have inspired a wonderful fairy tale—like literature some Westerners have enjoyed, and the concept of ch'i is basic to the martial arts. Even more, however, Westerners have appreciated the fundamental writings of philosophical Taoism, the Tao te ching of Lao Tzu (traditionally dated sixth century B.C.E.) and the book of Chuang Tzu (369-286 B.C.E.?). These books convey the essential Taoist themes of deep naturalism, inwardness, and gaining through giving. Fur

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Eastern Spirituality in America: Selected Writings
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Eastern Spirituality in America - Selected Writings *
  • Contents v
  • Preface 1
  • General Introduction 4
  • I - Introduction 5
  • II - Hinduism 45
  • Hindu Selections *
  • III - Buddhism 114
  • Buddhist Selections *
  • IV - Taoism 195
  • Taoist Selection *
  • V - Theosophy 215
  • Theosophy Selection *
  • Bibliography of General Works on Eastern Spirituality in America 235
  • Index to Introduction 237
  • Index to Texts 240
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