Recommended Books

Lao Tzu riding on his ox. 
He carries the scroll of the Tao Te Ching in his hand as ransom to the Keeper of the Western Gate for his passage out from the lands of civilization, into the wilderness. The Tao Te Ching, the "Book of the Way and Its Virtue," is the founding text of Taoism, and has been translated into other languages more often than any other book except the Bible. Taoism melded with Buddhism in China to create Chan Buddhism, which in Japan became Zen. 
Taijiquan: The Art of Nurturing, The Science of Power
by Dr. Yang Yang 

The best introductory book in English on Tai Chi. Although "Hunyuan" does not appear in the title, Yang Yang is one of Grandmaster Feng's disciples, and this book is in fact about Hunyuan Tai Chi (although it applies equally well to the other styles). Not a how-to manual, but rather an in-depth look at the inner essence of Tai Chi, including the underlying principles of practice and the development of neigong (internal energy and skill).


Dr. Yang has a strong background in the martial arts, and studied Hunyuan Tai Chi directly with Grandmaster Feng for many years in Beijing as a formal disciple. He also has a PhD in Kinesiology from the University of Illinois, with a focus on the mechanisms and benefits of Tai Chi, which adds a unique modern scientific research angle to his writing. It's very hard to find material of this depth. Highly recommended. 

Buy the book directly from the school bookstore. 

[Note: Apparently only the first edition, which is "out of print" and therefore too expensive, appears on Amazon, so we don't recommend buying there.] 
Tao: The Watercourse Way
by Alan Watts
A classic introduction to contemplative Taoism. Alan Watts was an important fixture on the San Francisco intellectual scene of the 50's and 60's, and is still considered one of the foremost interpreters of Taoism and Zen to the West. 

You may want to read this along with The Way of Zen, Watts' most popular book. Zen Buddhism is derived from Chinese Chan Buddhism—Buddhism seen through Taoist eyes. 

Tao Te Ching
by Lao Tzu
translated by Gui-fu Feng, photography by Jane English 
No other Chinese book has been translated as often as the Tao Te Ching, "The Book of the Way and Its Virtue," the founding text of Taoism. The original Seal Script ideograms in which it was written are beautiful and enigmatic, allowing a wide variety of nuanced interpretations. This English translation by Gui-fu Feng is a classic, in a large paperback format with beautiful black-and-white photography by Jane English.  

[Note: See also The Feminine Taoa great website that 

allows you to compare many different translations of the Tao Te Ching side-by-side. For a number of the chapters, it also includes the Seal Script ideograms in which the text was originally written:

The first two lines of the Tao Te Ching, Chapter One

(1) The way (2) that can be (3) a way (4) is not (5) the constant (6) way.

(7) The name (8) that can be (9) a name (10) is not (11) the constant (12) name.]

Chuang Tsu: Inner Chapters
by Chuang Tsu
translated by Gui-fu Feng, photographs by Jane English 

A companion volume to the Tao Te Ching, Chuang Tsu's Inner Chapters is the second most important founding text of Taoism. Enigmatic, elliptical, and humorous, Chuang Tzu's stories had a great influence on Chan Buddhism and its Japanese variant, Zen.


Chuang Tzu's Dream: 

"Once Chuang Tzu dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was Chuang Tzu. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Chuang Tzu. But he didn't know if he was Chuang Tzu who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Chuang Tzu. Between Chuang Tzu and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things."

I Dreamed I Was A Butterfly 

Drawing by Alice McMahon White