best books on taoism

12 Best Books On Taoism For Massive Wisdom [Explore Ancient Chinese Philosophy]

by Rey Sagar

If you are interested in exploring different religions and philosophies, then you might be heard about Taoism.

And you wanted to explore more about their belief and convictions.

So why not read books to get the best out of it, that’s why we have collected the best books on Taoism for beginners and for everyone who wants to know more about ancient Chinese philosophy.

But before that let’s know a little more about Taoism’s core belief.

The main teaching of Taoism is to get things done by letting them happen. Let the river flow if you want to water.

Let your enemy die of natural causesthere is no need to kill him.

Let things happen.

Get the things you want by not wanting them.

Taoism was the “science” of its time, and has a lot in common with the “modern” variety:

  • Everything is natural and real.
  • There’s only one kind of “stuff” and it’s made of patterns. It’s subtle and hard to understand, but you can.
  • There’s no higher intelligence to ask about it or do it for you.
  • Align your understanding and behavior with it, and you can do things most effectively.
  • If you get confused with the thoughts, constructions, and complexities, see how they arise from what’s simpler and more universal.

Now let’s see the essential Taoist books to know about it.

 

12 Best Books On Taoism [That Everyone Should Read]

If you ask me what is the best book on Taoism? Then it might be very difficult to choose one because there are so many good books on Taoism already.

But if I have to choose, I will suggest you read Tao Te Ching's books, he has a bunch of books on Taoism.

But there are many more so why not start the list of best books on Taoism, so you will get to know what I'm talking about.

The best books on Taoism below are both fiction and non-fiction so be aware of that.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, we may earn a little commission at no additional cost to you.

1. Tao Te Ching

This is, by far, my favorite translation of the Tao Te Ching. I own a few others, and they’re all well and good, but this one is the one I continually read from and refer to when people ask me about the Tao.

The translation is well done, it captures the nature of the text well, and it flows fairly evenly.

The Tao Te Ching helps us understand the principles of Taoism, which is an ancient school of philosophy that is still applicable today. Lao Tzu invented Taoism in the 6th century BCE, which has been passed on for generations.

This book definitely is not a one time read.

Something to keep coming back once in a while, like a place of worship. This book is poetry to the soul and mind.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is lost on their path through life. It doesn’t have all of the answers, but it does have a LOT of perspective.

Best books on taoism ever written

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2. Living the Wisdom of the Tao

Dr. Dyer helps “western” readers of today understand the sayings of the Tao.

He interprets them for us to use in our everyday lives, as he has.

The overall feeling of the book is one of calm acceptance and can help those who read it to reach this calm acceptance for themselves.

Dyer uses concepts such as trusting in your own nature, living contented, getting flexible in your thinking, to name a few.

One of the things I like about Dyer’s work is that he wants you to DO something with these ideas. For one example, start letting go of your things.

For another, he encourages being in nature an hour a day.

And, he encourages you in that, whatever you want to become, be or do, take just one step to get started.

Great taoism book of worship

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3. The Way of Chuang Tzu

It is a good introduction for Chuang Tzu/Zhuang_Zhou for readers with Catholics or Christian background, thanks to “A Note to Reader” and “A Study of Chuang Tzu” chapters by the author.

The introduction chapters are gems by themselves, reflecting the rays of bright mind of the author.

The poetry part from Chuang Tzu is the main course and maybe the part that you would re-read again and again, even only for some of them.

As Chuang Tzu writes, “There is no robber so dangerous as Nature (Yang and Yin). Yet, it is not nature that does the damage: it is man’s own will!”

Definitely a must-read at least once.

Good books on taoism classic thoughts

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4. Tao Te Ching

By far the best book to humble yourself every time you pick it up. Easy read, but you don’t want to read it all at once.

Tao Tzu explained the way of life in simple words, so any person can understand.

You do not need complicated or abstract words to impart wisdom. Few sentences might look familiar, but somehow most of us took them for granted without grasping wisdom in it.

I strongly recommend giving this a try and if you are interested in Taoism, you can also take a look at “Tao of Pooh” by Benjamin Hoff which will give more insights on Taoism.

This book is truth about the world and I wish more people would read it and go by, buy it.

Best introductory book on taoism

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5. Foundations of Internal Alchemy

This book provides a clear description of the Taoist practice of Internal Alchemy, or Neidan.

The author outlines the four stages of the alchemical practice and clarifies several relevant terms and notions, including Essence, Breath, and Spirit; the Cinnabar Fields; the “Fire Times”; and the Embryo.

The book is based on the system of the Wuzhen pian (Awakening to Reality), one of the main sources of Internal Alchemy, and contains about two hundred quotations from original Taoist texts.

This book is however definitely not something that should be read by people not already familiar with the practices as it is not a general introduction, despite the name, but rather detailed discussions of the practices and ideas of the neidan.

Best books on taoism alchemy

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6. Taoism for Beginners

This is one of the best Taoism books to read if you are a beginner and don’t know much about Taoism.

The majority of the book introduces one to the history of Taoism in the past and present.

The writing is excellent. Despite this, the complicated history of the Tao, the many Chinese terms, and my inability to put the book down and explain what the Tao actually *is* made this a difficult read for me.

My favorite parts were the pages called “Everyday Taoism”, which is a practical application of the Tao that one can put into practice.

Taoism for Beginners is a great resource to get all the information you need on Taoism, whether you’re looking for information or looking for a way into the religion.

Highly recommended for quick explanation of Taoism.

Best books on taoism for beginners

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7. 365 Tao

This is a deceptively simple collection of thoughts on Taoism,

Which is so refreshingly uncluttered with dogmatism (as compared to most other books on spirituality/religion) that the author nearly could have removed all references to “Tao” or “Taoism” from the text without affecting the integrity of the ideas expressed.

This book is filled with unique quotes and interesting philosophy for every human dilemma, 365 days of the year.

Fire cools.
Water seeks its own level.
No matter how extreme a situation is, it will change. It cannot continue forever.

Obviously, this book won’t trigger such introspective thoughts for everyone, but you never know. Read it and find out!

That gets it 4 stars from me, easily.

Most essential essential taoist books

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8. The Tao of Daily Life

This is the perfect book for readers who are interested in Taoism and want a little daily inspiration.

How can something be so simple and so profound at the same time? Well, this book certainly is.

A great, easy-to-read introduction to Daoism. Derek Lin boils down the text and anecdotes of Daoist masters for the general reader.

For those not interested in Eastern philosophy, I think this book could get you hooked or at least curious. There are no cryptic riddles or poems here.

Everything is accessible and explained clearly. There are also some mentions of Buddhism, Zen, and other faiths or philosophies, but the primary focus is on Daoism. It needs a reader with an open, curious mind.

For those wanting more in-depth or intensely philosophical discourse, this book is not for you.

There are plenty of mid-level and graduate level texts on Daoism. I would recommend one of those for more advanced readers.

Another taoism book of worship

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9. Nature, man, and woman

Alan Watts is brilliant and at times mind spinning philosopher that often is beyond my intellectual grasp.

Watts describes and explains the alternatives to our often utilitarian, puritanical, guilt-ridden (and anything but spiritual) ways of thinking about love-making, and considers that, contrary to popular opinion, sex, the natural world, and spirituality need not be mutually exclusive at all-he doesn’t denounce the celibacy of the spiritual seeker.

But he doesn’t see it as the only way.

Taoism and Zen have always appealed to me, but Watts has a way of breathing life into his ideas in a uniquely approachable, intelligent, and considered way.

Something like these words in this book caress so deeply, so profoundly, that it is difficult to describe how much of a gift it is.

Best books on taoism by Alan W. Watts

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10. Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching

If you’ve never read the Tao Te Ching, this would be a good one to start with.

If you have read the Tao Te Ching, this would be a good one to re-read when the time is right.

Le Guin calls this a rendition, rather than a translation, as she compared a number of translations.

She relied heavily on the work of Paul Carus and other scholars to create a version that she felt captured the intent of the words while trying to omit bias. It’s a poetic version and very readable.

It’s thoroughly footnoted with a list of references.

This is a book you don’t just read. You live with it, like a good Bible or Bhagavad-gītā.

Having read it once, though carefully and ruminatively, does not qualify me to say much about it.

Best books on taoism For short read

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11. Taoist Secrets of Love

ATTENTION: the book fails to underline that you ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS store the chi to the lower Dan Tian, and never let it gather on the head.

Besides that, the book is excellent.

It Reveals the ancient sexual secrets of the Taoist sages.

This book teaches: higher taoist practices for alchemical transmutation of body, mind, and spirit; the secret of achieving and maintaining full sexual potency; the Taoist valley orgasm — pathway to higher bliss; and, how to conserve and store sperm in the body.

This book is one of the books that started the whole buzz about so-called “Taoist sex,” now widely misunderstood as being simply about more effective lovemaking.

It is just as valuable to those seeking to become celibate in an emotionally healthy and sex-positive way as it is for those who wish to use these techniques for longevity or for therapy.

Essential taoist books on love

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12. Tao: The Watercourse Way by Alan Watts

Another good books on Taoism by Alan Watts.

Like water, Tao seems to be something so pervasive yet so elusive. It is the source of everything, but it is not their Creator. It permeates everything, but it cannot be seen and cannot be grasp.

Furthermore, it reigns but does not rule. Tao has order, but it is not law. Because we are part of Tao, and Tao flows through us, we are part of the stream, and it is difficult for us to see, understand or describe it objectively.

“The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao…” goes the first line of Lao Tzu’s Tao De Jing. Alan Watts acknowledged the irony of him talking and writing about Tao but explained that it was his way of trying to grasp what it is.

Lao Tzu said, “It could be the mother of everything, I don’t know its name, and call it Tao.”

This was the last book he wrote before he died in 1973, and it was eventually completed by his good friend Al Huang.

Best introductory book on taoism by Watts

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Final Thoughts

So you got the list of best books on Taoism for beginners and everyone who wants to explore ancient Chinese philosophy.

The one thing that I want to tell you before reading these books, is you can choose to re-read to get the best out of it, especially if you are not familiar with Taoism.

Because it might be a little difficult to articulate so many beliefs and convictions at the same time.

So take your time while reading.

Other than that, it's pretty much fun to read and explore the ancient Chinese religion that instructs believers on how to exist in harmony with the universe

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