Only by inhabiting Dao (the Way of Nature) and dwelling in its unity can humankind achieve true happiness and freedom, in both life and death. This is Daoist philosophy's central tenet, espoused by the person-or group of people-known as Zhuangzi (369?-286? B.C.E.) in a text by the same name. To be free, individuals must discard rigid distinctions between good and bad, right and wrong, and follow a course of action not motivated by gain or striving. When one ceases to judge events as good or bad, man-made suffering disappears and natural suffering is embraced as part of life. Zhuangzi elucidates this mystical philosophy through humor, parable, and anecdote, deploying non sequitur and even nonsense to illuminate a truth beyond the boundaries of ordinary logic. Boldly imaginative and inventively worded, the Zhuangzi floats free of its historical period and society, addressing the spiritual nourishment of all people across time. One of the most justly celebrated texts of the Chinese tradition, the Zhuangzi is read by thousands of English-language scholars each year, yet only in the Wade-Giles romanization.
Burton Watson's pinyin romanization brings the text in line with how Chinese scholars, and an increasing number of other scholars, read it.
Burton Watson has taught at Columbia, Stanford, and Kyoto Universities and is one of the world's best-known translators of Chinese and Japanese works. His translations include The Demon at Agi Bridge and Other Japanese Tales, The Analects of Confucius, The Tales of the Heike, and The Lotus Sutra; the writings of Zhuangzi, Mozi, Xunzi, and Han Feizi; The Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry; and Records of the Grand Historian.
Introduction Outline of Early Chinese History 1. Free and Easy Wandering 2. Discussion on Making All Things Equal 3. The Secret of Caring for Life 4. In the World of Men 5. The Sign of Virtue Complete 6. The Great and Venerable Teacher 7. Fit for Emperors and Kings 8. Webbed Toes 9. Horses' Hoofs 10. Rifling Trunks 11. Let It Be, Leave It Alone 12. Heaven and Earth 13. The Way of Heaven 14. The Turning of Heaven 15. Constrained in Will 16. Mending the Inborn Nature 17. Autumn Floods 18. Supreme Happiness 19. Mastering Life 20. The Mountain Tree 21. Tian Zifang 22. Knowledge Wandered North 23. Gengsang Chu 24. Xu Wugui 25. Zeyang 26. External Things 27. Imputed Words 28. Giving Away a Throne 29. Robber Zhi 30. Discoursing on Swords 31. The Old Fisherman 32. Lie Yukou 33. The World Index