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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Taoism [Kindle Edition]

Brandon Toropov , Chad Hansen
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $9.99
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Kindle Edition, March 1, 2002 $9.99  
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Book Description

You’re no idiot, of course. You know Taoism is one of the world’s oldest religions, based on simplicity and balance. However, you may not know it has important parallels with modern Western life: health, ecology, even in such pop culture icons as Luke Skywalker and The Beatles.But you don’t have to sit at the feet of a Taoist master to learn how the Taoist tradition has enlightened seekers throughout the centuries! The Complete Idiot’s Guide® to Taoism will show you exactly why Taoist principles appeal to people from every walk of life! In this Complete Idiot’s Guide®, you get:--The history of the Daode Jing, the world’s shortest core religious text, and Laozi, its mysterious author.--The teachings of Zhuangzi, the often-overlooked master sage of Taoism.--An explanation of ying-yang and what it represents.--Taoism’s relationship to Zen Buddhism.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Brandon Toropov is a Boston-based writer who has written a variety of non-fiction titles including The I Ching for Beginners and The Art and Skill of Dealing with People. He has appeared on more than 100 local and national broadcast programs. He is the author of several Complete Idiot’s Guides on religious topics.

CHAD HANSEN is a professor of philosophy at the University of Hong Kong. He is the author of Language and Logic in Ancient China and A Daoist Theory of Chinese Thought. He is in the process of completing a translation of the Daode Jing.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1676 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Alpha (March 1, 2002)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001QNVP8Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,882 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
62 of 71 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not recommended July 11, 2004
By Alan
I have been studying taoism for about 2 1/2 years now, and while I'm no expert, there was plenty I disagreed with in this book. I felt that the authors were incorrect (at least in their explanations) about some of the key points of taoist philosophy, and one of the authors gives his own translation of the first verse of the Tao Te Ching which I also found to be off-base. The back cover also promises "in-depth" information on tai chi and the I Ching, yet the book actually only gives brief information on these subjects -- in fact, INSIDE the book it says "Here's a brief overview" -- no in-depth information. To make matters worse, the section on the I Ching contrasts the methods of eastern divination versus western divination, but the example it gives of a question in eastern divination is INCOMPATIBLE with the I Ching, suggesting an infamiliarity with it.
While the back cover was probably written by the publisher and not the authors (it even mentions "ying-yang" instead of the correct "yin-yang"), the material inside the book is what counts. But because of the faults I mentioned with the material inside, I found myself taking everything else I read in the book with a grain of salt because I was unsure of its accuracy. And while it does provide some information on the history of taoism, chinese dynasties, and taoist religion, I'm concerned that this book would mislead those new to taoism.
If you are new to taoism and would like to learn more, I recommend picking up a good translation of the Tao Te Ching and starting there. "Tao Te Ching: The Definitive Translation" by Jonathan Star is my personal favorite translation because it includes a verbatim, word-for-word translation of the text. Also recommended is the translation by Brian Browne Walker.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable and broad introduction to Taoism March 7, 2004
This book was my introduction to Taoism, and I am deeply grateful to the authors for writing such a splendid guide to the Way. /The Complete Idiot's Guide to Taoism/ starts out by working through the difficulties of defining "Tao" and introducing the reader to the works of Lao-Tzu and Chuang-Tzu, the two sages of Taoism. The book moves on to offer an overview of key Taoist concepts like wu-wei, de, the yin-yang polarity, etc. All of this is done in a relaxed, enjoyable manner, making for a quick and fun read.
This /Idiot's Guide/ also has chapters on Taoist thoughts on nature, skill, and life and death. These chapters illuminate the Taoist perspective on many aspects of life, and do so a lot more effectively than a list of dry, fixed "shall" and "shall not" items would be able to. The book also includes some thought-provoking overviews of the links between Taoism and Christianity, modern physics, popular culture (i.e. The Matrix), and so forth.
This book is not page after page of dogmatic rules on how you should or should not think, or should or should not live. Anyone looking for such things will be disappointed with /The Complete Idiot's Guide to Taoism/, and indeed Taoism itself. The authors went to great lengths to provide a cohesive intro to the history of Taoism, as well as the core ideas that make it a viable philosophy (or religion) to this day. I think the main goal when writing this book was to get the reader to actively *think* about life, and how traditional Taoist perspectives match up with the experiences of daily life.
If you're up to the challenge of genuinely thinking about Taoism, and how it can be applied to all aspects of the world, this book will definitely satisfy you. As the authors say in their introduction, "Think of /The Complete Idiot's Guide to Taoism/ as a flashlight; judge its effectiveness by what it helps you see more clearly as you make your own way along the path."
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars not bad at all August 10, 2005
I was expecting a complete wishy-washy new-agey mosaic of pseudo-science, pseudo-history, pseudo-scholarship; but actually the scholarship and historical information in this book were pretty darn good.

It's a good introduction to ancient Chinese philosophy, the context of Zhuangzi and Laozi. The philosophy isn't watered down too much, and fortunately (thanks no doubt to Chad Hansen's contribution) it's not mixed in with unrelated stuff from the Upanishads or anything like that.

There is a misprint on the back, "ying-yang" which must be slang for the padding surrounding one's gluteus maximus; inside the book the spelling is correct. The explanation of yin-yang is also correct and simple.

I would've wanted a lot more information on religious Taoism: information about modern movements and so on. Which deities are most commonly worshipped in Taiwan, which in Hong Kong, which in Beijing? And, how are they worshipped? I'd like information about Taoist pilgrimages, Taoist sacred places, and so on. The book doesn't touch any of that: minus one star.

Also, the bit on quantum physics could be greatly, greatly improved. Maybe they could've asked a few grad students at a physics dep't for commentary? It would have greatly helped: minus one star.

However, I just couldn't give the book 3 stars; the chapters on politics and ecology were surprisingly good, the internet links are too helpful, and as I said earlier the explanation of ancient Chinese philosophy was too good. So, maybe there's a little grade inflation here.

In sum, it's a good introduction to Taoism, and it'll prepare you to move on to deeper stuff, and help you find it.

If, like, you're already a Taoist immortal or something, this book isn't for you, and you can't really criticize it for that. I'd expect you to realize that already.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Taoism: Another way to look at the immutable
Helpful for those of us who want a cogent definition, but not a tiresome advocacy
Published 1 month ago by Donald A. Collins
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book! Easy to understand guide to an otherwise ...
Great book! Easy to understand guide to an otherwise complicated religion. I love it!
Published 3 months ago by Anna Gregov
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting guide for anyone who is interested in learning...
Even though I have read and reviewed numerous books on Zen, Taoism and other Asian philosophic publications, I decided to purchase this book, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Joseph J. Truncale
5.0 out of 5 stars A good resourse for anyone interested in Taoism
Just finished this. It's absolutely excellent. I particularly liked the information on Qi Gong and the connections between Taoist thought and modern physics. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Immortalite
4.0 out of 5 stars Tao terrific
This read is very informational for the beginning Taoist. A must add to any religious collection and a great companion with other Tao books.
Published on February 20, 2011 by cmbeverly
1.0 out of 5 stars Confusing even if you are not an idiot
This book is poorly organized and confusing. The authors used way too many quotations from other sources, i.e. books, websites. Read more
Published on July 20, 2008 by J. Li
3.0 out of 5 stars vague
I just felt that after reading this book, I still knew next to nothing about taoism. the search continues...
Published on May 29, 2008 by
3.0 out of 5 stars Unduly vague
Lots of info presented here but the authors have made it too esoteric and vague. You should not have to reach and re-read to comprehend the Tao. Read more
Published on July 30, 2006 by MStevey
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Introduction
I knew little about taoism, and while I feel that this book does a good job with introducing one to it, I realize now, after reading this book, that I still know little about... Read more
Published on June 23, 2004 by firefly_955
5.0 out of 5 stars Learned about Zhuangzi
I knew a little about Taoism -- or thought I did -- but was surprised at how much I didn't know about Zhuangzi. An engaging and enlightening review of an important subject. Read more
Published on April 29, 2002
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