Chuang Tzu (pinyin: Zhuangzi) is the name given to an enigmatic Daoist sage who was born around 369 BC at Meng (now in Henan Province), where he worked as a minor official in the city of Qiyuan. The eponymous Chuang Tzu is considered one of the key foundational works of Daoism, exceeding even the renowned Dao De Jing of the equally elusive Laozi.
Dao translates as 'The Way', both the individual human life-path, and the infinitely complex unfolding of the Universe, whose mechanism and purpose are beyond human logic. Reasoning alone is insufficient and must be leavened with the development of intuition. One must learn to deal calmly with the stormy seas of life, as experience shows that fighting against the Dao only makes matters worse. Daoism enjoins us to non-contention, non-intention, simplicity, humility and wisdom as the path to perfect equanimity amidst the turmoil of existence. Chang Tzu pursues this teaching via humour and historic parable; such tales as the master dreaming he was a butterfly, then awakening and being unsure if he is indeed himself, or a butterfly dreaming he is Chuang Tzu, bring into focus the unreliability of the senses and our own fragile identity.
Composed of 33 chapters, the Chuang Tzu is divided into seven 'Inner' chapters (written by the sage himself), and fifteen 'Outer' chapters which - along with a 'Miscellany' - are mainly the work of his later adherents. Here is wisdom: a deeply esoteric book of many levels, that will repay reading on a regular basis.