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Discourse on Chuang Tzu: Expounding on the Dream of a Butterfly (1) (Volume 2) Paperback – January 16, 2017
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--- Dan G. Reid, translator of The Ho-Shang Kung Commentaryon Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching
Considered one of the canonical Chinese classics, The Book of Zhuang Zi (Chuang Tzu) is well-regarded for its proficient use of language, literary finesse and also for its obscurity. Translating Zhaung Zi from the ancient text to modern Chinese even presents difficulty for present day scholars and linguists.
It is therefore unsurprising that Western translations and research can often represent Zhuang Zi's writings rather one dimensionally. Either focusing on its satirical qualities against leading socio-political ideas of its time, such as Confucianism; as a work of early metaphysical or relativistic-skeptic philosophy; or, merely as a spiritual attitude that may be adopted to life, namely the action-avoiding, freedom-loving Daoist.
However, the work of Zhuang Zi carries all of these resonances, as well as coded information about Daoist meditation practice. The synergy and complexity of all these attributes within the text are often lost to the Western reader. What is so compelling about Hu's translation, is how hard it works to bridge these various components, by creating a discourse that engages Western understanding, and yet remains distinctly faithful to its Chinese origins. As an editor, I had to resist the inclination to impose Western logic on the concepts expressed here, of which are already significantly transformed by moving from one language into another.
This version spans two volumes of over 800 pages, attempting to provide as much historical, cultural and practical information as possible, whilst re-creating a sensitive and playful translation of the original text. Hu's annotations and commentary are heavily based on his knowledge as a teacher of Daoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism, as well as his enthusiasm for the ancient Chinese language, thereby offering unique insight into the inherent wordplay and spiritual references within the text.
Undoubtedly, Discourse on Chuang Tzu will make an important addition to the library of anyone interested in a general understanding of Daoist ideals as: non-causative action, spontaneity or nature, however, there is also sufficiently fresh material for the knowledgeable reader to gain a deeper understanding into why The Book of Zhuang Zi carries so much spiritual gravity and how its teachings may be practised.
--- Eileen Pun; Poet published in Ten: The New Wave, Poetry Anthology (Bloodaxe Books, UK); Editorial team, Embracing Destiny in China (New World Press, Beijing)
About the Author
Hu Xuehi is a senior Taoist adept, and practitioner of internal alchemy, an herbalist and qigong healer, has helped people all over the world uncover their own internal medicine through the study of qigong. He spent a large part of his life seeking out true teachers of the Tao,meditating deep in the mountains and learning from rare texts of internal alchemy, as well as thoroughly studying the ancient works of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.
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Having already been a fan of Chuang Tzu, who’s brilliance is not what we normally understand by ‘philosophy’, appealing not so much to the intellect but to the imagination. Readers expecting to find tedious and lengthy abstract treatises on Taoist ideas will instead find brief, witty and seemingly nonsensical anecdotes and dialogues. It is a collection of many materials, of varying quality and authenticity, often in the same passage. Hu’s version has insightfully worked through the text, and presents the best material, sacrificing neither rigor nor inspiration. I have already frequently pulled Discourse on Chuang Tzu from my shelf for a dose of Hu’s eminently wise and playful scholarship.