So far I have comprehensively analysed Laozi’s Dao De Jing 道德經 (about 3rd century BC) based on comparing eight different translations simultaneously. I have noted the virtues articulated over its 81 chapters and compiled these into larger ‘themes’ and ‘motifs’.
The Dao De Jing is roughly divided into two parts. The first part covers the emergence of dao while the second part is said to be concentrating more on de, the virtues. However, virtues are pronounced throughout the work and not just in chapters 38 to 81. Since the work was allegedly re-edited and recomposed various times, the original structure is nowadays difficult to ascertain. As the Dao De Jing written during a time of political turmoil, unrest and transition it also conveys a social-political message. More precisely it also lays out how a state should be ruled ideally based on the virtuous behaviour of the sage.
I then continued with a less popular work, the Nei-Yeh 內業 (about 4th century BC, author unknown), which primarily focuses on self-cultivation by way of meditation and the processes of the mind and body. This work apparently precedes the Dao De Jing and there are themes on self-cultivation later reappearing in a similar way in the Dao De Jing.
After the Nei-Yeh I turned to another less popular work, the Spring and Autumn Annals 春秋 by Lü Buwei (3rd century BC). This work draws on various philosophies prevalent in China by that time, like Daoism, Confucianism and Mohism and was meant as guidance for the first Emperor of China, the founder of the Han Dynasty. Its key message is how to sustain political and social order in a pluralist society. With regard to the virtues covered there is a visible overlap with the Dao De Jing.
I still have a few major works linked to Daoism and the Daoist Canon daozhang ahead to ‘complete’ the set of virtues derived from the Dao De Jing and expanded with those already extracted from the Nei-Yeh and the Spring and Autumn Annals by Lü Buwei. These works are the Liezi 列子 (5th century BC), the Huainanzi 淮南子 (2nd century BC), the Taiping Jing 太平经 (2nd century CE), and the Baopuzi 抱朴子 by Ge Hong (4th century CE).