A few years back I taught a course on Taoist Culture for the Italian-Chinese association in Turin.
It was a short introductory course, based on my somewhat non-systematic study of Taoism and Zen – something I started as an “interest” in the mid-80s.
The course was well received – and with the money I got from it I decided to buy me something I had desired for a long time: the four volumes of Thomas Cleary‘s translations of the Taoist Classics, published by Shambhala Publications.
The four volumes are a complete library of founding texts.
- Volume One collects the three basic texts (the Tao Te Ching, the Chuang-tsu, the Wen Tsu) folowed by the so-called Book of Leadership & Strategy, and a treatise on Sex, Health and Long Life.
- Volume Two is the alchemist’s companion, collecting a series of alchemical classics.
- Volume Three lines up a nice miscellany of shorter texts, followed by The Secret of the Golden Flower, by a selection of Taoist writings by women and finally a set of essays about Taoist living.
- Volume Four is entirely devoted to the I-Ching.
The debate on which translation is best, when it comes to Taoist Classics, will probably never end.
As far as I’m concerned, these four volumes are a good solid base for a growing collection of texts.
Cheap they are not, but they are beautiful – and it felt just right to spend my Taoist-connected money on Taoist books.
Now I’m going back to the four volumes, starting with Volume One, and I’ll label it as “research” – my next, pulp-ish, Silk-Road-related narrative project will lean heavily on a Taoist world-view… well, ok, on a pulp-Taoist world-view, and I need to brush-up the basics.
Volume Two will be particularly useful.