Recommended Reading

The following books are recommended reading for those wishing to further explore Daoism and support their cultivation. These books use either the older Wade-Giles or newer pinyin system of romanisation for their titles and content which may appear confusing. However, for clarity, we have provided the title as it appears on the book.

There are considered to be three core texts which support the daoist view of cultivation: Laozi’s Daode jing (Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching), the Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu) and the Liezi (Lieh-Tzu).

Laozi’s Daode jing 

The Daode jing (Tao Te Ching), also known as the Laozi (Lao Tzu), is one of the early classics of Chinese thought and is a core text for all traditions of Daoism. One important way to approach the Laozi is through our own direct response to the text. It is written in a way that stimulates personal reflection and its observations and insights can help us question our views and perceptions. This is particularly important for developing the openness and curiosity that supports a daoist approach to cultivation. Another approach is to consider how other readers, commentators and interpreters have understood the text in different times and cultures. For this reason it is interesting to read a range of different translations. There are many worthwhile versions available and the ones listed below are just a selection. Here are some of their distinguishing features:

  • The translation of Giafu Feng and Jane English is one of the earliest publications to offer an accessible interpretation of the Laozi and as Giafu was one of Shi Jing’s first teachers this version has a particular significance for the Association.
  • The translation by Addiss and Lombardo is distinctive in its terse simplicity, reflecting the succinct language and poetry of the Chinese text.
  • Henricks’ Te-Tao Ching is based on an excavated version of the text and his translation closely reflects the original Chinese phrasing. For this reason it is one that works well when reading the Chinese and English alongside each other. The Chinese text provided in the book varies at times from the standard received versions of the Laozi but these differences are all clearly noted.
  • Red Pine’s translation is also influenced by alternative versions and readings of the Chinese text. In a number of passages he interprets in ways that are not so common in other English versions making this a valuable contribution. Even more noteworthy is his selected translation of Chinese commentaries for each chapter. These include the writings of many individuals and thus offer insights into the various ways that Chinese readers have understood the text.

Tao Te Ching

Paperback – 31 Dec 1973
Lao Tsu (Author), Gia-Fu Feng (Translator), Jane English (Translator)

Lao-Tzu: Te-Tao Ching: A New Translation Based on the Recently Discovered Ma-wang tui Texts

Paperback – 1989
Lao-Tzu (Author), Robert Henricks (Translator)

Lao-Tzu’s Taoteching: With Selected Commentaries from the Past 2,000 Years

Paperback – 1 Nov 2009
Lao Tsu (Author)
Red Pine (Translator)

Tao Te Ching (Hackett Classics)

Paperback – 1 Nov 1993
Lao Tzu (Author),‎ Stephen Addiss (Translator),‎ Stanley Lombardo (Translator)

Lao Tzu and Taoism

Paperback – 1 Jun 1969
Max Kaltenmark (Author),‎ Roger Greaves (Translator)

This book discusses the Laozi and the Zhuangzi (see the section below)

Observing Wu wei: The Heart of Daodejing

Translation and Commentary by Liu Ming


The second core text, the Zhuangzi, along with Laozi, is a key text of early daoist thought. The writings use parables, anecdotes, allegory and paradox to illustrate the daoist view of our true nature.

The Zhuangzi is a more extensive text and has been translated both in its complete form and as the seven ‘Inner Chapters’ of the original work, considered to be the heart of the text.

Chuang Tsu: Inner Chapters

Paperback – 19 Jan 2015
Gia-fu Feng (Author), Jane English (Translator)

The Complete Works of Zhuangzi (Translations from the Asian Classics)

Hardcover – 31 Dec 2013
Burton Watson (Author)

Chuang-Tzu: Inner Chapters (Hackett Classics)

Paperback – 1 May 2001
Chuang-Tzu (Author), A. C. Graham (Translator)

The Way of Chuang Tzu

Paperback – 9 Apr 2010
Thomas Merton (Author),‎ Dalai Lama Xiv Dalai Lama Xiv (Author)

Chuang Tzu

Paperback – 1 Jan 2015
David Hinton


The Liezi is the third core text of daoist philosophy. It is usually considered to be more accessible than the Zhuangzi, as it conveys its meaning with stories of ‘real’ people in everyday situations.

The stories seem to have a timeless quality and are easy to relate to, even today. These texts contain a lot of information which reflects the daoist view and the practice of tranquil sitting.

The Book of Lieh-Tzu: A Classic of the Tao (Translations from the Oriental Classics)

Paperback – 5 Jan 1990
A. C. Graham (Author)

Lieh-Tzu: A Taoist Guide to Practical Living (Shambhala Dragon Editions)

Paperback – 1 Dec 2001
Eva Wong (Author)


The Neiye is part of a larger compendium text called the Guanzi. The Neiye, inner teachings, or inner training, is particularly relevant to the practice of tranquil sitting, and is considered to be the earliest text to discuss the concepts of jing (essence), qi and shen (spirit) in relation to meditation practice. The translation by Harold Roth is particularly recommended.

Original Tao: Inward Training (Nei-yeh) and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism (Translations from the Asian Classics)

Paperback – 7 Dec 2004
Harold Roth (Author)

Tranquil Sitting (Jingzuo)

The following section includes important texts that support our view of cultivation and cover the subtle aspects of Tranquil Sitting.


Clarity and Tranquility: A Guide for Daoist Meditation

Paperback – 6 May 2015
Stuart Alve Olson (Author),‎

Sitting in Oblivion: The Heart of Daoist Meditation

Paperback – 30 Sep 2010
Livia Kohn (Author)

Secrets of Chinese Meditation: Self-Cultivation by Mind Control as Taught in the Ch’an, Mahayana and Taoist Schools in China

Paperback – 1 May 1991
Lu K’uan Yu (Charles Luk )(Author)

Quiet Sitting: The Daoist Approach for a Healthy Mind and Body

Hardcover – 10 May 2012
Chen Yingning (Author),‎ Jiang Weiqiao (Author)

Taoist Meditation: Methods for Cultivating a Healthy Mind and Body

Paperback – 1 Jul 2000
Thomas Cleary (Author)

Spring Thunder: Awakening the Hibernating Power of Life

Paperback – 1 Mar 1997
Hua-Ching Ni (Author)

The Immortal: True Accounts of the 250-Year-Old Man, Li Qingyun

Paperback 20 Jul 2014
Yang Sen (Author) Stuart Alve Olson (Translator)

The Secret of The Golden Flower

There are various translations available of The Secret of The Golden Flower. Committed practitioners should consider reading and comparing Wilhelm and Jung’s translation, with Cleary’s.

This free translation, by Walther Sell and Junyong Wang is a very important work to read in comparison to the Wilhelm and Cleary translations. We feel that in places, it better reflects the inner meaning of the text from the the viewpoint of the Association:

The Secret of the Golden Flower: The Classic Chinese Book of Life

Paperback – 13 Dec 1993
Thomas Cleary (Author)

The Secret of the Golden Flower; A Chinese Book of Life

Paperback – 17 Nov 2014

C. G. Jung (Commentary), Richard Wilhelm (Translator), Cary F. Baynes (Translator)


The following books provide descriptions and illustrations of the Daoyin movements that support the cultivation practices.

Attune Your Body with Dao-In: (Master’s Series of Taoist Internal Arts)

Paperback – 29 Jun 2002

Ancient Way to Keep Fit

Paperback – 27 Apr 2001
Zong Wu (Author), Li Mao (Author)

The Book of Internal Exercises

Hardcover  – 1978
Stephen Thomas Chang (1978)

Taoist Yoga: Chinese Art of Kai Men

Paperback – 21 Apr 1983
Chee Soo (Author)

Chinese Healing Arts: Internal Kung-Fu

Paperback – 1 Jan 1979
William Berk (Author)

Other texts that support the daoist View

Tao: The Watercourse Way

Paperback – 20 Oct 2011
Alan Watts (Author),‎ Al Chung-Liang Huang (Author)

Being Daoist: The Way of Drifting with the Current (Revised Edition)

Paperback – 12 Dec 2014
Stuart Alve Olson (Author),

Taoism: Growth of a Religion

Paperback – 1 May 1997
Isabelle Robinet (Author),‎ Phyllis Brooks (Translator)

Handbooks for Daoist Practice (10 Volume Set plus Slipcase)

Paperback – September 1, 2008
Louis Komjathy (Author)

This set contains The Scripture on Clarity and Stillness (the Qingjing Xinjing), The Nei Ye and other important texts in a handy set, including English translation and original Chinese text.

Divine Traces of the Daoist Sisterhood: Records of the Assembled Transcendents of the Fortified Walled City, by Du Guangting (850-933)

Paperback – (2006-02-28)
Suzanne E. Cahill (Author)

A text covering the ‘Queen Mother’ and other women who have influenced Daoism through the ages.

Immortal Sisters: Secret Teachings of Taoist Women

Paperback – 11 Nov 1996
Thomas F. Cleary (Author)

Vitality, Energy, Spirit: A Taoist Sourcebook (Shambhala Dragon Editions)

Paperback – 1 Jan 1991
Thomas Cleary (Author)

The Shambhala Guide to Taoism (Shambhala guides)

Paperback – 17 Dec 1996
Eva Wong (Author)

Being Taoist: Wisdom for Living a Balanced Life

Paperback – 3 Apr 2015
Eva Wong (Author)

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Hardcover – 16 Sep 1972
Shunryu Suzuki (Author)

The Way of Zen (Vintage Spiritual Classics)

Paperback – 1 Feb 1999
Alan Watts (Author)

Taoism: The Parting of the Way

Paperback – 1 Dec 1957
Holmes Welch (Author)

Tao & Longevity: Mind-Body Transformation

Paperback – 1 Jan 1990
Nan Huai-Chin (Author)

The Hermit Tradition – stories of encounters with daoist hermits and priests

Taoism: The Road to Immortality

Paperback – 1978
John Blofeld (Author)

Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits

Paperback – 15 Oct 2009
Red Pine (Author)

The Monastery of Jade Mountain

Paperback – Facsimile, 1 Dec 1999
Peter Goullart (Author)

The author describes his visits to various  Monasteries and his discussions with Daoist priests.

Secret and Sublime: Taoist Mysteries and Magic

Paperback – 15 Mar 1973
John Blofeld (Author)

Journey to Inner Peace and Joy: Contemporary Chinese Hermits

Hardcover – 10 Jul 2015
Zhang Jianfeng (Author),‎ Tony Blishen (Author)

The Supreme Way: Inner Teachings of the Southern Mountain Tao

Paperback – 1997

Shi Jing’s Teachers

Still Point of the Turning World: The Life of Gai-Fu Feng

Paperback – 1 Apr 2009
Carol A. Wilson (Author)

Nanao or Never: Nanao Sakaki Walks Earth

Paperback – Illustrated, 1 Jun 2000
Gary Lawless (Editor)


The Clouds Should Know Me By Now: Buddhist Poet Monks of China

Paperback – 1 Nov 1998
Red Pine (translator)

When I Find You Again it Will be in Mountains: Selected Poems of Chia Tao

Paperback – 26 Feb 2001
Tao Chia (Author)

The Selected Poems of Li Po

Paperback – 20 Aug 1996
David Hinton (translator)

Bright Moon, White Clouds: Selected Poems of Li Po (Shambhala Library)

Paperback – 5 Jul 2012
Li Po (Author)

Nanao or Never: Nanao Sakaki Walks Earth

Paperback – Illustrated, 1 Jun 2000
Gary Lawless (Editor)

Break the Mirror

Paperback – 1 Apr 1999
Nanao Sakaki (Author)

The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain

Paperback – 2000

Cold Mountain (Author) Red Pine (Translator)

One Robe, One Bowl: The Zen Poetry of Ryokan

Paperback – 29 May 2006
John Stevens (Author)