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Wen-tzu: Understanding the Mysteries

Wen-tzu: Understanding the Mysteries [Kindle Edition]

Lao Tzu , Thomas Cleary
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

the legendary sage of ancient China, is traditionally considered to be the
author of the
Te Ching,
of the most popular classics of world literature. Now Lao-tzu's further
teachings on the Tao, or Way, are presented here in the first English
translation of the Chinese text known as the
Although previously ignored by Western scholars, the
has long been revered by the Chinese as one of the great classics of ancient
Taoism. In it, Lao-tzu shows that the cultivation of simplicity and spontaneity
is essential to both the enlightened individual and the wise leader. This
timeless work will appeal to a broad audience of contemporary readers who have
come to consider Lao-tzu's
Te Ching

a classic on the art of living.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 306 KB
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala Dragon Editions (5 Nov 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00GGPPA94
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #719,570 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
The Tao Te Ching is more poetic, but at times cryptic. Wen-Tzu goes into a bit more detail. The prose used, however, is in keeping with the ideal of Taoism that simplicity is better.

Mr. Cleary also does an admirable job of setting it up in his introduction. Don't skip it!

Although it can be thought of as the "companion" guide to the Tao Te Ching, it stands alone as a cornerstone of Taoist thought. A book of truth in its own right.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The spirit of Tao... 27 Nov 2012
By Ram Lee
People who have read the Tao Te Ching, and were quite pleased and affirmative about it, and wonder about what (tao-book) to read next, will certainly do themselves a favor to pick up this book one day.
The spirit of the Wen-tzu is similar to the Tao Te Ching but it is much more concrete, and therefore a welcome addition.
This book has helped me significantly to sense and understand the spirit of Tao.
I recommend this to anyone who has a warm heart for the Tao.

Tao (as a universal principle) is something which originally and ceaselessly functions without deviation,
and it is (as teaching and method) an understanding and practice that is to bring you back right into
that original and ceaseless, impartial functioning.

I conclude with a quote:
"The Way returns the carved and polished to simplicity."

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fills a gap in the Taoist canon 12 Feb 2005
By wiredweird - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Historically, Wen Tzu is said to have been a student of Lao Tzu, the founding author of Taoism. At least on the surface, the writing bears out that statement. Every chapter starts with the phrase "Lao Tzu said", possibly in answer to a question posed by Wen, as if Wen were writing down the master's teachings directly.

Points of style also seem more like Lao Tzu than like later authors. In fact, the Wen Tzu fits nicely into a continuum. Lao was the earliest, also the most poetic, abstract, obscure. Chuang Tzu was probably later, and had a more prosaic, anecdotal, and understandable style. Lieh Tzu was the latest, and even more pedestrian and pragmatic than Chuang. Wen fits neatly between Lao and Chuang. His writing is less figurative and poetic than Lao's, but still more ethereal than Chuang's. Like Lao, Wen addresses the Tao directly, rather than through the kinds of stories that Chuang uses with such good effect.

Wen Tzu has a strong message all his own, however. He conveys a strong sense of changing needs of each different moment, and of the proper relationships between things. He notes that a bow is needed for hunting, but is put away when the game is caught. He also points out that the wheel functions only when all the spokes are properly fitted, and that the harp plays only when all of its strings are present and properly tuned. One spoke can't carry a cart and one string can't play a melody. Both messages have strong social meanings: the Way gives a person diffferent duties at different times, and that organization of many people into a society may also be proper, if done in accordance with the Way. This is why Wen's "quotes" of Lao are sometimes suspect. It was the tradition, back then, for a newer writer to ascribe his words to an older authority. This practice made sure the writer was not seen to contradict established wisdom, and hoped to gain respect by association.

Cleary's translations are always very readable, and this is no exception. The text tends towards the repetitive, verging on monotony at times. Still, it makes a useful addition to any collection of Taoist classics and is easy to enjoy for its own wisdom and voice.

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wen Tzu by Cleary 8 Oct 2004
By Bao Pu - Published on
This book is an English translation of the Wen Tzu (Wenzi) by Thomas Cleary (PhD. from Harvard). The Wen Tzu is anonymous and dates hundreds of years after the primary Taoist (Daoist) classics, the Tao Te Ching (Daode Jing) and the Chuang Tzu (Zhuangzi), from which it quotes often. At times, it is nothing more than a commentary on the Tao Te Ching. This is a good thing. However, there are also many parts where it is un-Taoist, and more influenced by "Legalist" philosophy and policies. Large portions of the Wen Tzu are taken straight from another old Daoist-inspired anthology, the Huai nan Tzu (Huainanzi), which dates to the first half of the 2nd century BCE. (The oldest copy we have ever found of the Wen Tzu dates from approximately 50 BCE.)

I know some Chinese and have checked several parts of Cleary's translation and found that it is not too bad at all. Unfortunately he sometimes leaves out whole passages without alerting the reader. In my opinion, he should have included an appendix discussing his translation methods and perhaps a glossary as well (w/Chinese characters).

~ bp
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great taoist book 4 Aug 2003
By beetlebum - Published on
for years, i've been searching for the answers about the taoist principles such as the wu wei or the yin and yang. i had a very good collection of taoist books in my library such as the tao te ching (i got three versions), the chuang tzu (2 versions), a lieh tzu e book, and many more. i've been reading them but it is just so hard for me to learn how to use the taoist principles to my everyday life. tao te ching is too esoteric, chuang tzu is too complicated due to his story-telling and fables, lieh tzu is alright but i needed something direct.
one day, i was walking in a bookstore and i saw the wen tzu. i asked myself, "what the hell is the wen tzu?" so as i looked at the cover, it says that it is the further teachings of lao tzu. now that adds more to the "what the hell" in my head. but i gave it a try. after reading a few passages, i am very happy to say that Wen Tzu is actually the book i've been waiting for. why? first of all, it's very direct like an "in your face" kind of explanation. second, wen tzu for me is actually an extension, more detailed version of the Tao Te Ching, not mentioning how big the book is. it's safe to say that this is the tao te ching, the director's cut, or the guide to the tao te ching. it is that good. believe me. even i believe that it was written by lao tzu because of its content. you'll just have to read it to believe it, and i'm happy to share this book to those who are looking for a great taoist book, or a book that can motivate you to live peacefully.
always smile a lot and take care.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More wisdom in this one book than a library of others. 10 Oct 1998
By J. William Nelson ( - Published on
Written more than 2000 years ago, this book addresses subjects in a manner still relevant to modern problems.
See Chapter 87 on the absurdity of get-tough laws, and on the impotence of intellectual social experimentation. See Chapter 89 for an ancient articulation of post-modern anti-foundationalism, Chapter 103 on why class-based laws ultimately fail. Chapter 107 advocates proactivism over reactionism. Chapters 111-112 explain why well-intentioned social programs often harm their beneficiaries. 125 explains why government is needed to protect minorities. 151 advocates environmentalism. 158 demostrates the dire results of partisan politics and poll-watching.
All in all a remarkable text that makes modern politics and society stand up in new relief.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A little-appreciated book of Taoist Thought that is worth it 10 April 2000
By Steven Savage - Published on
I hadn't heard of the Wen-Tzu until I'd noticed it among other Taoist books, and figured I'd give it a try. I was impressed - it's another one of those Taoist books that, like the Hui-Nan-Tzu, contains a lot, but gets less "airtime" than the Tao Te Ching, Chuang-Tzu, and Lieh-Tzu.
This is a good solid read, and the influence of previous Taoist works (especially the Tao Te Ching) is obvious, and common Taoist trains of thought are further analyzed.
In short, buy it.
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