Monday, September 29, 2008

#27 - Simple Taoism

Simple Taoism is a book that was given to me as a gift since many of my friends and family know my affinity for the philosophical teachings of Taoism, but has remained unread because it seemed too "simple." I was in between books so I figured it would make a quick read and maybe contain a nugget or two I was overlooking.

Simple Taoism is broken up into three parts: History, Concepts, and Practical Application. It is a small book so it is a touch ambitious. The history is a nice overview but since much of Taoism is shrouded in mystery and time it is just the author's take and I found it to be somewhere in the middle of different histories I have read. The definition of concepts is again middling in it's effort and very good for a beginners introduction but it does skip over some aspects and skimps on others and fails to offer a frame of reference for the level of importance of each piece. The author then ends with practical applications which are written from his own views and personal relationship with Taoism. He has a few other books on meditation so he does weight it a bit towards that end but again as a brief overview it suffices.

The Tao is simple by nature and in being so, complex. I'm very wary of any book which aims to "simplify" it, especially since most of these titles weigh in at many more pages than the original texts. I'm glad I read it and there were some new/different opinions on certain areas but it was a bit too basic for me and fell a little flat in places. It would have done well to include the Tao Te Ching in some way or at least start each chapter with an excerpt rather than some of the odd choices which were selected. Maybe a good quick basic intro, but I have to say it is Not Recommended.

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