The Catholic monk Thomas Merton had a special place in his heart for Chuang Tzu, the chief authentic spokesperson for Taoism, who lived in the fourth century B.C. The texts in this wonderful paperback are the result of a five-year study of this Chinese storyteller and mystic. Merton used four translations of Chuang Tzu into western languages to create his own readings. He finds in these anecdotes, poems, and meditations "a certain taste for simplicity, for humility, self-effacement, silence, and in general, a refusal to take seriously the aggressivity, the ambition, the push, and the self-importance which one must display in order to get along in society."

The monk finds within these stories meanings and messages that are comparable to the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible and the "Little Way" of Therese of Lisieux. In a chapter on "The Way of Chuang Tzu," Merton presents an in-depth examination of this philosopher's understanding of virtues that lie beyond virtue. He salutes his humility:

" 'One may call this humility 'cosmic,' not only because it is rooted in the true nature of things, but also because it is full of life and awareness, responding with boundless vitality and joy to all living beings. It manifests itself everywhere by a Franciscan simplicity and connaturality with all living creatures. Half the 'characters' who are brought before us to speak the mind of Chuang Tzu are animals-birds, fishes, frogs, and so on. Chuang Tzu's Taoism is nostalgic for the primordial climate of paradise in which there was no differentiation, in which man was utterly simple, unaware of himself, with Tao, and with all other creatures."

The Way of Chuang Tzu opens new doors to understanding and appreciating the many spiritual riches of Taoism.