Tao Is Silent

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Overview

The Tao Is Silent Is Raymond Smullyan's beguiling and whimsical guide to the meaning and value of eastern philosophy to westerners.

"To me," Writes Smullyan, "Taoism means a state of inner serenity combined with an intense aesthetic awareness. Neither alone is adequate; a purely passive serenity is kind of dull, and an anxiety-ridden awareness is not very appealing."

This is more than a book on Chinese philosophy. It is a series of ideas inspired by Taoism that treats a wide ...

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The Tao Is Silent

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Overview

The Tao Is Silent Is Raymond Smullyan's beguiling and whimsical guide to the meaning and value of eastern philosophy to westerners.

"To me," Writes Smullyan, "Taoism means a state of inner serenity combined with an intense aesthetic awareness. Neither alone is adequate; a purely passive serenity is kind of dull, and an anxiety-ridden awareness is not very appealing."

This is more than a book on Chinese philosophy. It is a series of ideas inspired by Taoism that treats a wide variety of subjects about life in general. Smullyan sees the Taoist as "one who is not so much in search of something he hasn't, but who is enjoying what he has."

Readers will be charmed and inspired by this witty, sophisticated, yet deeply religious author, whether he is discussing gardening, dogs, the art of napping, or computers who dream that they're human.

From a renowned mathematics and philosophy professor comes a beguiling, whimsical look at Taoist pholosophy.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060674694
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/28/1977
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 433,475
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Meet the Author

Raymond M. Smullyan, an internationally known mathematical logician, is the author of several books including Alice in Puzzle Land, This Book Needs No Title, and Five Thousand B.C. and Other Philosophical Fantasies.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Chinese Philosophy
In A Nutshell

A mathematician friend of mine recently told me of a mathematician friend of his who everyday "takes a nap". Now, I never take naps. But I often fall asleep while reading -- which is very different from deliberately taking a nap! I am far more like my dogs Peekaboo, Peekatoo and Trixie than like my mathematician friend once removed. These dogs never take naps; they merely fall asleep. They fall asleep wherever and whenever they choose (which, incidentally is most of the time!). Thus these dogs are true Sages.

I think this is all that Chinese philosophy is really about; the rest is mere elaboration! If you can learn to fall asleep without taking a nap, then you too will become a Sage. But if you can't, you will find it not as easy as you might think. It takes discipline! But discipline in the Eastern, not Western style. Eastern discipline enables you to fall asleep rather than take a nap; Western discipline has you do the reverse. Eastern discipline trains you to "allow yourself" to sleep when you are sleepy; Western discipline teaches you to force yourself to sleep whether you are sleepy or not. Had I been Laotse, I would have added the following maxim -- which I think is the quintessence of Taoist philosophy:

The Sage falls asleep not
   because he ought to
Nor even because he wants to
But because he is sleepy.Tao Is Silent. Copyright © by Raymond M. Smullyan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 1, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Benjamin Hoff¿s ¿The Tao of Pooh¿ was a fun, light hearted intro

    Benjamin Hoff’s ‘The Tao of Pooh’ was a fun, light hearted introduction to Taoism aimed at young adults. Raymond Smullyan’s ‘The Tao is Silent’ is also fun and light hearted, but geared to an older crowd of individuals who have spent time pondering how to live their lives. ‘The Tao is Silent’ consist of many short (usually) essays on a variety of topics written from the perspective of Taoism. These topics are quite varied and include (among other interesting subjects) the Tao itself, goodness in mankind, morality, free will, astrology and dogs. As with Hoff’s book, the writing style is casual and frequently flippant, with side remarks and opinions sprinkled throughout. This style may sound obnoxious in a book aimed more for the adult crowd than was Hoff’s, but it works. Indeed, I felt as though I was having a casual conversation over a cup of coffee with someone who thought seriously about these matters but now took them in a light hearted way. Contrary to the opening lines in Chapter 56 of the ‘Tao Te Ching’ (“He who knows does not speak. He who speaks does not know”…John Wu’s translation) Smullyan knows of what he speaks, and he speaks it well. The book ends with a wonderful annotated bibliography on Taoism and Chinese philosophy, which leads to my only complaint; although Smullyan is the author of many books, this appears to be his only book on Taoism.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2008

    A reviewer

    This book has great stories and very thoughtful insights on the nature of the Tao. I wouldn't recommend it as an introduction to Taoism, but maybe as a second or third look since it assumes some knowledge of the basics behind Taoism. Very entertaining and enlightening.

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