Interpretation of Daoism

Interpretationof Daoism

Interpretationof Daoism

Daoism,which is also known as Taoism, is a school of thought that wasestablished 200 to 300 years ago. In Chinese, the term Dao means ‘theway’. Daoism is a philosophy that talks about the right path oflife. Some of the Daoism prominent philosophers include Zhuangzi,Yang Zhu and Laozi. Daoism is similar to and different from Confucianlearning. It emphasizes on the real existence of the world andperceives the world in a positive way. However, the Taoists used torebuke the any form of man- made pursuit carried out by theConfucians because they believed people ought to take part in actionsthat are spontaneously propagated by nature. In other words, theTaoists believed that human wisdom cannot create effective socialorder (Chiu, 2014). The essay will focus on the major concepts thatare seen in Laozi’s and Zhuangzi’s works and their contributionsto philosophy as a whole.

Accordingto Chinese tradition, Laozi was an extraordinary philosopher whoprospered in the 6thCentury B.C.E. However, some modern scholars affirm that Laozi is alegendary, and therefore there was no historical Laozi. In responseto religious Daoism, Laozi is perceived as the supreme god. The nameLaozi means an old master. Laozi’s influence on Chinese culture isprofound and far- reaching. In this case, the Laozi has establishedan intellectual movement known as Xuanxue. The intellectual movementobtained its essential philosophy from Daoism, which is a school ofthought that dominated the influential individuals in Chinese duringthe 3rdand 6thCentury C.E. Laozi is an axial thinker whose approaches help inshaping the route of human development. Laozi’s memorable andreflective phrase like “governing a large country is like cooking asmall fish” has been incorporated into the Western politicaloratory. Moreover, Laozi’s several comic or exemplified versionsare essential in the wider leadership. In this case, severalindividuals learned a lot from Laozi’s best-selling books such asThe Tao of Pooh, The Tao of Physics, among others. Laozi has a largenumber of followers and has highly contributed in the classical worldliterature, which is relevant in the contemporary society (Hongkyung,2012).

Inhis book DaoDe Jing,Laozi emphasizes on the ‘Wei- wu-wei’ concept. This concept meansthat an individual can only be efficient at work, if he or she letshis actions be spontaneously propagated by nature. In other words, anindividual ought to avoid pro- active actions, strong will andunambiguous intentions so as to be efficient in his or her tasks.According to Laozi, activities taken in response to nature aresimpler and more productive. Moreover, Laozi believes that a societywith strict rules and laws is hard to manage. Just like otherphilosophers, Laozi used analogy, repetition, acceptable ancientsayings and paradox to explain his essential ideas. Therefore, hisideas led to the development of poetry in China and other Asiancountries (China Culture. Org, 2014).

Zhuangzialso known as Master Zhuang, was one of the ancient thinkers whocontributed a lot in the Daojia philosophy, which is also known as“School of the way.” Zhuangzi was similar to Mencius, but therewas no communication between them. Moreover, Zhuangzi is ranked amongthe best philosophers in China. His style of conveying essentialconcepts is poetic, mythical, humorous, polysemic, narrative andindirect. Zhuangzi emphasized on holistic life philosophy. In thiscase, he encouraged people to focus on the ancient modes ofsocialization that would enable them live a natural, simple andflourishing life (Coutinho, 2004).

Zhuangzicontributed major concept, which are essential to Chinese people. Oneof the major concepts contributed by Zhuangzi was ‘wanderingbeyond.’ This concept reflects Daoist spontaneous character ofinteracting with the natural world, and an individual who haswithdrawn from dangers and anxieties of world, in order to live apeaceful and healthy life. In response to the interpretation of themodern world, Zhuangzi simply meant that people should minimize thehustles and bustles of life, and focus on the leisure life in anatural setting. The natural setting is made up of elements such asmountains, rivers, forests, among others. More so, Zhuangzi came upwith the concept of Nurturing life. In this case, an individualshould live a skillful life so as to benefit in the near future.People must withdraw from artificially structured and highly complexsocial lives found in the city, and focus on natural but helpfulskills. In addition, a person ought to take part in practices such asmeditation so as to obtain peace and unity and turn out to be a trueperson. However, this does not mean that individual should withdrawfrom essential elements of life such as advice from other people.Zhuangzi utilized immortals to explain various points. In this case,he believed that people will live eternally, but change from one formto another (Coutinho, 2004).

BothLaozi and Zhuangzi believe in immortality. In this case, they believethat worldly elements constantly go through a transformation known asWu Xing. The two Daoists believe that all elements of the world inare in a particular phase of nature. Just like Laozi, Zhuangzivalues wei- wu- wei. In this case, people should focus on actionsthat are spontaneously propagated by nature as they are usuallysimple and productive. For example, in the story of Ding the Butcher,he was good in his job because he focused more on dao, whichautomatically led to the perfection of his skills. More so, thebutcher was good in his job because he established unity with dao,and perceived actions from dao’s point of view (Welch, 1966). Onthe contrary, Zhuangzi’s work was more complex and profound thanLaozi’s writings. Laozi believed that being weak and soft is anindication of superiority, whereas Zhuangzi believed that beingstrong and hard is a sign of superiority. Laozi is self- serious whentrying to convey strange things, whereas Zhuangzi sounds humorouswhen conveying strange things. For instance, Zhuangzi said that oncehe died, he wanted to be buried in a lavish coffin that was made ofheaven and earth his pearls should be made of moon and stars, and begiven myriad creatures as farewell presents. On the other hand, Laozistated on whether he would face death with courage or fear(Schwitzgebel, 2013).


Zhuangziand Laozi were two great Chinese philosophers who believed in thenature’s universal law. They believed that one should rely onactions that spontaneously propagated by nature other than artificialand strong will actions. Moreover, the two Taoists reflected thepositive elements of the world in their concepts. Their concepts alsofocus on the moral aspects of the world. In this case, they encouragepeople to take part in useful skills that are productive.


Coutinho,S (2004). Zhuangzi and Early Chinese Philosophy: Vagueness,Transformation and Paradox. London: Ashgate Press.

ChinaCulture. Org (2014, October 7). Laozi: His work. Retrievedfrom

Chiu,L (2014). Daoism in China. Retrieved from

Hongkyung,Kim (2012). The old master: A syncretic resding of the Laozi from theMawangdui Text. Albany: State University of New York Press

Schwitzgebel,E. (2013, April 8). The humor of Zhuangzi and the self- seriousnessof Laozi. Department of Philosophy: University of California.

Welch,H. (1966). Taoism: The partying of the way. Boston: Beacon Press.