Best Taoism Books That Will Change How You Live
Taoism (or Daoism) is largely based on the writings of Lao-tzu in Tao Te Ching. Some people see Taoism as a religion, while others see it as a Chinese philosophy or a way of life.
No matter how you perceive Taoism, the sacred text, Tao Te Ching, is one of the most translated books in the world. Many have benefitted from the teachings of Lao-tzu and his wisdom.
There are three key texts in Taoism — Tao Te Ching, Chuang-tzu, Lieh-tzu.
In the list below, some of the books are merely translations of these texts, while others include interpretations by well-known spiritual teachers. There are also other books that are written based on the Taoist philosophy or practices used in Taoism.
Scroll down the list of the best books on Taoism and see which one resonates with you.
Top 10 Best Books on Taoism
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1. Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life by Wayne Dyer
This book is the author’s interpretation of Lao Tze’s Tao Te Ching. He spent one whole year reading hundreds of translations and practicing the verses of the Tao. This book consists of 81 chapters (one chapter for each verse) and is meant to be read slowly.
If you want something more practical which you can apply to your daily life, this book is for you. At the end of each chapter, the author provides action steps you can take to adopt Taoism as your way of life.
Reading this book and practicing what the author suggests will remind you to be at peace and help you live a more inspired and harmonious life.
2. Tao by Alan Watts
Tao is impossible to describe beyond thought or concepts. If you have read Tao Te Ching before but find it somewhat ambiguous and frustrating to understand, this is the book for you.
Written by a British author who is well-known for interpreting Eastern philosophies such as Buddhism and Hinduism, this book makes Taoism accessible to the Western audience. It is the last book the author wrote before he died and it was completed by Al Chung-Liang Huang.
Subtitled the watercourse way, this book masterfully captures the spiritual essence of the mystical Tao. It gives you a great introduction to both the history and philosophy of Tao.
3. Tao Te Ching by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English
If you want an artistic and less scholarly translation of Tao Te Ching, this beautiful book is for you.
This book is translated by someone who knows Chinese. Even though the language used in this book is poetic, the translation is clear, simple, and enjoyable to read. Furthermore, the translated English verses are accompanied by the calligraphy of the original text and beautiful monochrome photographs of nature.
Reading the book while appreciating the art will bring you into a contemplative mood. But as this book is large, it’s not suitable to bring around. It’s best to read it at home over a coffee table.
4. The Tao of Daily Life by Derek Lin
If you are interested in Taoism but you are too busy to decipher the sacred texts of Taoism, this book is for you.
Using the powerful medium of stories and short dharma talks, the author ties the stories and teachings into our daily life and presents the secrets of Tao in the most accessible way imaginable.
Life doesn’t have to be a struggle. Reading this book will help you to be more composed and at ease in various situations. It will help you to handle challenges with less effort and gain greater power and clarity in all areas of life.
5. 365 Tao by Ming-Dao Deng
Is it possible to see Tao in everyday life regardless of place and culture? This book is an attempt to do just that.
Written for people who are trying to live the Taoist life today, this book encourages you to explore Tao on your own through daily meditation. Instead of analyzing old scriptures and trying to make sense of it, the best way to understand Tao is to experience it yourself now.
This isn’t a book of traditional Taoism. But if you want a contemporary Taoism book that helps you commit to your spiritual practice every single day, this book is for you. It contains 365 small chapters that cover various aspects of Tao.
6. The Way of Chuang Tzu by Thomas Merton
Written by an American Trappist monk who was passionate about bridging the Western and Eastern religions, this book is his version of the Chuang Tzu.
Chuang Tzu (or Zhuangzi) is an ancient Chinese text that contains Taoist stories and anecdotes. It was originally written by the influential Chinese philosopher, Chuang Tzu, himself, and his disciples. Together with Tao Te Ching, they are the two foundational texts of Taoism.
In this book, you will find parables that are often humorous and irreverent but yet profoundly insightful. If you enjoy learning through stories, this book is for you. It will give you a good introduction to Taoist’s way of life.
7. The Way of Nature by Brian Bruya
If you are a visual learner and reading the collection of stories from Chuang Tzu’s teachings is confusing for you, this book is for you.
Illustrated like a comic by one of Asia’s most popular cartoonists, C. C. Tsai, this book makes the stories and teachings come to life and fun to read.
In this book, you will find the English translation in text bubbles and the original text in traditional Chinese characters at the side of the page. If you are someone who also knows how to read Chinese, you will appreciate this book even more. There is also an illustrated version of Dao De Jing in the series.
8. Lieh-tzu by Eva Wong
Originally written by Lieh-tzu himself, Lieh-tzu is one of the three representative texts of Taoism. Similar to Chuang-Tzu, this book is a collection of stories and philosophical musings that communicate the essence of Taoism.
Even though this Taoist text is the least popular and known of the three, several of the stories are commonly found in Chinese children’s books. This shows that the teachings of Lieh-tzu are simple for children to understand and yet profound for adults to ponder.
If you find the other two Taoist texts too philosophical and inaccessible, read this book instead. This is a more understandable and practical guide to Taoist philosophy that can be applied to everyday living in the real world.
9. Tao by Osho
Written by one of the greatest spiritual teachers of the twentieth century, this book is an interpretation of five parables from the Lieh Tzu.
As per the author, Taoism is an organic religion, it’s not an organized religion. He calls Tao “the pathless path”. Each path is unique. It’s a path which you have to go alone and not follow the crowd. You can be a Taoist if you simply live your life authentically and spontaneously.
In this book, the author challenges readers to examine and break free of the conditioned belief systems and prejudices. If you want a greater trust in life and enjoy life in all its richness, this is the book for you.
10. Healing Light of the Tao by Mantak Chia
If you are more interested in Taoism practices than its philosophy, this is the book for you.
A student of several Taoist masters, the author founded the Universal Healing Tao System in 1979 and has taught and certified tens of thousands of students and instructors from all over the world. In the book, he gives you an overview of his body-mind-spirit system and teaches you how to awaken and cultivate your life force, your chi energy.
This book is suitable for Qi Gong or Yoga practitioners and people who want physical well-being, sexual vitality, and emotional balance.