Here are the major Taoist texts.

TAOIST TEXTS

Tao Te Ching
Chuang Tzu
Lieh Tzu
I Ching


Tao Te Ching
Taoism begins with the Tao Te Ching, which was written by Lao Tzu in the 6th Century B.C. But.... Lao Tzu is probably a legend. And, it has been suggested that the Tao Te Ching was not written until as late as 250 B.C. Whatever. Anyway, the Tao Te Ching is the basis of all Taoism. It is made up of 81 chapters, each ranging from just a few to maybe 30 or so sentences.

The chapters of the Tao Te Ching tell how to live, how to rule, and the nature of Heaven and Earth. Following The Way leads to contentment and fulfillment.

Aside from the ideas of giving up desire and non-action, the Tao Te Ching also talks about opposites. One must recognize the whole of life and the universe. When you see light, know that it would not exist without darkness. But Lao Tzu didn't just write this stuff so that you would know that one needs the other. He wrote it so that you would come to understand that both sides are within you. We are all good and evil, active and passive, light and dark, yin and yang. Understand your entire being, not just the good parts: "I would know my shadow as my light. So shall I at last be whole."--Michael Tippett

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Chuang Tzu
The second great Taoist text is the Chuang Tzu, written by Chuang Tzu. Chuang Tzu is much more likely to have actually existed than Lao Tzu. Chuang Tzu probably lived ca. 365-290 B.C. Considering that the time of the Tao Te Ching's origin is in question, who knows if Chuang Tzu was influenced by it, or if he influenced its author.

Anyway, the Chuang Tzu teaches its lessons in the form of stories and conversations. Different characters interact, and you get the moral of the story.

The Chuang Tzu has 33 chapters. The first seven are called The Inner Chapters, and are thought to have been written by Chuang Tzu himself. (Assuming he really existed :) The fifteen Outer and eleven Mixed chapters are thought to have been written by various pupils of his.

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Lieh Tzu
The third great Taoist text is the Lieh Tzu. Lieh Tzu is a wise man mentioned in the Chuang Tzu. But most of the Lieh Tzu was probably written many centuries later. (That's all I know about the Lieh Tzu. I have a copy, and I'll add more here as I read it.)

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I Ching
I've read that the I Ching is based on Confucianism. But it apparently has some Taoist writings in it also. In fact, it is the first place that Yin and Yang are mentioned. Although, as you know from reading above, the idea of opposing forces existing as one had been around much earlier. But again, I don't know anything about this text yet. So sue me!

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