Influences of Taoist Classics on Chinese Philosophy

Wing-tsit Chan

Wing-tsit Chan, “Influences of Taoist Classics on Chinese Philosophy,” in Literature of Belief: Sacred Scripture and Religious Experience, ed. Neal E. Lambert (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1981), 139–54.

Born in Kwangtung, China, in 1901, Professor Chan was educated at Lingnan University in Canton and Harvard University. He was the Anna D. R. Gillespie Professor of Philosophy at Chatham College and adjunct professor of Chinese thought at Columbia University when this was published. He has given over a thousand lectures on China throughout the United States and has taught at Dartmouth College and Lingnan university. His Source Book of Chinese Philosophy has been a classroom classic for sixteen years. In addition to writing several books, he has contributed essays on Chinese philosophy and religion to some thirty-eight anthologies, was editor for the Chinese philosophy section of the Encyclopedia of Philosophy and has contributed articles on this subject to the Encyclopedia Britannica. The year before giving this lecture, he received the highest academic honor available to a Chinese scholar: election to the Academia Sink a.

With charm and energy, his presentation introduced Taoism’s history and philosophy with clarity, personalized it with tales of the major participants, and vivified it with examples. Evenhandedly he dealt with the points of resemblance and difference between Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism and between Taoism and Western philosophy, then suggested his personal reconciliation between their apparently conflicting claims. In so doing, he not only presented a model of how to make a complex and potentially confusing subject lucid and involving, but he also typified that intellectual courtesy which respects history without the distortion of dogmatism or special pleading.

I have always insisted that anyone majoring in any aspect of China should read at least one whole Chinese classic. But it is very difficult to choose from among the abundant Confucian and Taoist texts because there are so many. It has always been most difficult for me to choose between “The Classic of the Way and Virtue” or Tao Te Ching, and the Chuang Tzu. So you had better read both.

This afternoon I am going to concentrate on the Taoist classic, the Tao Te Ching, a very brief work of only about five thousand characters, divided into eighty-one chapters. It has been ascribed to Lao Tzu. According to the Historical Records, Lao Tzu was a custodian of documents in the capital of the Chou state. When he got old, he retired. Riding a buffalo, he came to a pass, and the warder of the pass said, “Sir, you are a wise man. Why do you not write down what you have to say for the benefit of posterity?” Thereupon Lao Tzu wrote down what we call “the five-thousand-character classic.”

But there are difficulties about this man because in the same historical record he was confused with another man who lived about 273 B.C. In addition to difficulties about the historicity of this man, we also have had a lot of difficulty about the text’s authenticity, authorship, arrangement, terminology, literary style, and so on—so much so that in the 1920s and 1930s, Chinese scholars old and young, fired with the spirit of revolt, denounced and rejected Chinese tradition and said there was no such man as Lao Tzu or that Lao Tzu did not live in the sixth century B.C. or the third or fourth century B.C., and that the Tao Te Ching was a product of the third century B.C. This view became very popular in this country—so much so that if anyone still believed in the traditional account that Lao Tzu was a sage in the sixth century B.C. or that the Tao Te Ching was traceable, at least in part, back to Lao Tzu he was considered out of date.

But I, in my little work on The Way of Lao Tzu, tried to gather all the information I could from Japan, China, Europe, and this country and see what any scholar with anything serious to say about Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching believed. I calculated that the great, great majority of scholars twenty years ago disbelieved the tradition of Lao Tzu. But about ten years ago I brought out a very long article on ancient Taoism for an Academia Sinica publication and found that by then hardly any scholar still believed that Lao Tzu was a mythical person or that he had lived as late as the fourth century B.C. As to the book—of course, there was no book in the sixth century B.C., only slips. These slips contained sayings which were later collected, so perhaps we can say the Tao Te Ching did not assume the form of a book until the third or fourth century B.C. But certainly, the ideas in that book can be traced back to the sixth century B.C. I’m not going to go into detail; you can see a good deal of material in my little book, The Way of Lao Tzu; and to you who want further detail, I am afraid I can claim I have presented more material than anybody else in that Academia Sinica publication.

One thing is sure: no scholar can deny that Confucius in about 520 B.C. made a trip to see Lao Tzu to ask about ceremonies and Lao Tzu told Confucius, “Never mind about the details. Eliminate your desires. Get at fundamentals.” And Confucius returned from the visit saying, “Lao Tzu is a dragon.” Lao Tzu became the hero of Confucius, and his work, the Tao Te Ching has been heroic to the Chinese ever since.

Part of the myth confused Lao Tzu with a man named Li, which means plum, so it is said that Lao Tzu was born under a plum tree—obviously borrowing from Buddhism the story that the Buddha achieved enlightenment under the bodhi tree; another version gives his name as Tan, meaning ear; and to the Chinese, a long ear means wisdom because wisdom can be accumulated only with age. (So, in order to impress my students, every morning when I shave I pull my ears a little bit—with no success!) Because his origins are shrouded in ancient times, “Lao Tzu” has been interpreted as “old master” so the myth developed that he was born at the age of seventy-two. (His mother must have had quite a time!)

Nevertheless, you simply have to read this book. But I warn you: you either like it a lot or you hate it a lot. You may hate it a lot because it tells you not to strive for achievement, not to own any vehicles—not a Cadillac, not even a Pinto!—to live in a primitive community, not to travel, never to seek fame, never to run for Congress but to shun iniquity, to withdraw, to yield, to retreat. You may not like it. Or you’ll like it a lot because it’s boldly vigorous, provocative, and stimulating. Why are people poor? Because their officials eat up all their taxes in Washington. Why do people commit crimes? Because there are too many laws. (The more laws there are, the more crimes people commit. So the Taoist classic says.) This book has the strongest condemnation of war in Chinese tradition. Victory in war is like a funeral, it says. No one wins. So to the government they say, “Leave us alone.” And yet, this book says that these peaceful methods will make you better at the best kind of virtue, not the secondary minor virtues; that you’ll get the real kind of righteousness, not the conventional secondary versions. So it is a very stimulating book.

This afternoon I am going to lecture on how this little book of slightly over five thousand characters has largely determined the direction of developments in Chinese philosophy and reli gion. I use the world largely, not exclusively, but I think it is true, as you shall see.

I shall begin with tao, which is the name of the movement. Tao, the Chinese character, consists of the head of a human being and a walk—a way to go, the way, the path you are on, the way of doing things, and finally the way of existence. And the Way itself. All Chinese philosophers talk about the Way. Confucius had his own way. His way is the way of the ancient sages, centered on man. Lao Tzu’s way is the way of nature and there is that contrast, not an irreconciliable contrast, as I shall show, but a different approach, a different perspective. This way is the Way of Existence, with all the characters of it as absolute. It is One, indestructible, everlasting, all good, and so on. From that description, we are likely to describe tao as the absolute, as noumenon, as transcendental; and it has often been equated with the Nirvana of Buddhism, with Atman or Brahman in Hinduism, but it is not quite either. It is the Chinese Way, the way of existence, the process of being. It is not to be equated with something which bifurcates subject and object. No! It is the subject itself; the Way is the thing. In other words, this philosophy is the philosophy of process, to borrow Western philosophical terms. This is the philosophy of immanence, the way of things, the way in things. Sometimes we assume a dichotomy, that transcendence and immanence are two different things. That must not hold in the Chinese way of thought. We do not distinguish between the human and the nonhuman. Tao involves both. Tao is transcendental, yes; but it is also immanent. I shall come back to this point a little later.

But in the Way, as a process, one of its most outstanding features is change. In this little book, you will find change repeatedly stressed. The seasons change, life and death change, and this is what impressed Lao Tzu and the Chinese in general.

Please listen to my second point. Now, if things do change, how are they related? How are they coordinated? Lao Tzu is very firm in emphasizing that tao is One. Tao is everywhere, tao is universal, tao leaves nothing out, and so on. And there are parables and knowledge in the book about that idea. Lao Tzu said once that in moral cultivation, do not have a divided mind. Do not let your spirit be distracted. Do not divide people up as we are doing into races, religions, and economic structure. Lao Tzu said that if the king holds on the One, his kingdom will be in order. If the sun and the moon hold on the One, their courses will be regular, and so on. The emphasis on the One cannot be stronger than in the Lao Tzu.

The scholar who particularly emphasized this idea of the One and carried it to the philosophical level was Wang Pi (249–226 B.C.); he lived for only twenty-four years and died a very young man. Professor Richard Mather in his masterful translation of the Shih-Shuo Hsin-Yu has some stories about him and has done a lot of recent research about him. Wang Pi stressed the idea of Oneness, one piece, wholeness. In the I Ching, “the book of changes,” you have 360 different hexagrams, each dealing with its particular situation. But one principle runs throughout, and you do not need the 360 hexagrams once you hold on to this one universal principle.

Am I denying, then, all the multiplicity, variations, and differences? Here we bring in a number two Taoist who lived from 369 to 286 B.C. In the Confucian schools, the study of Lao Tzu was discouraged because, as I said, it was thought to discourage many young people’s ambition. In the Confucian schools in the old days, Chuang Tzu, the book of Chuang Tzu, was practically prohibited, it was so feared. I cannot go into detail about him but I shall give you only one parable or story.

In his first or second chapter, Chuang Tzu talks about a natural symphony. There are holes on the hillside, some big and some small, and the winds blow on them. Here the big hole makes the sound “wuuh,” and the small holes make “whoo”; and thus on the cliff there is a natural symphony. It is beautiful because it is one, but the one consists of this variety of sounds. So the One involves all the differences; in fact, it is the differences that make up the One. And so Chuang Tzu said, “Let us keep our differences. If you are like a duck and your legs are short, never mind; keep them short. If you are a goose and your neck is long, never mind; keep it long. It is foolish trying tc :ut them so as to equalize them. If you are born a little ball, accept it, because then you can be used to hit some targets. If you are born a rooster, accept it, because then you can wake people up in the morning.” Now there is a lot of fatalism in these philosophies, yet there is both a great deal of acceptance of differences and also encouragement to weak and unfortunate people in difficult situations. Chuang Tzu said, “If you are only a hunchback, never mind; you have just as much freedom and dignity as anyone.” That is why Taoism as a religion particularly championed the cause of the underdog. It gave hope to the deprived, the poor, the sick, and the weak. And here you have the strength of Taoism, particularly Taoist religion, which eventually became a hotbed of protests and rebellion in Chinese history.

The man who developed this idea of differences which contributed to—in fact, which substantiated and affirmed Oneness—was Kuo Hsiang, who died in 312 B.C. Thus we have two philosophical commentators of the fourth century on these two basic Taoist classics, one emphasizing Oneness to start with, the other emphasizing the differences of many to start with, and yet they converge. In other words the One involves many, the many involves One, and this leads me to my third point, namely, the relationship between the One and the Many.

Buddhism came in from India, emphasizing that the One is real and all differences are maya (illusion or appearance). The Chinese faced this problem; and under the impact of the Taoist philosophy in which the One and the Many supplement each other and embrace one another, the Chinese Buddhists developed a doctrine which can be translated as substance and function.

One commentator on Lao Tzu’s chapter 38, which talks about substance and function, said the great virtue is substance; all these other small virtues like kindness, liberality, generosity, wisdom, and so on are small virtues. They are functions of the substance. Substance is one, irreducible, permanent. Function is operation. Perhaps you can look upon them as two phases or two aspects of the same thing, but there can never be substance without function. To have a substance without function is meaningless, is dead; nor can there be function without substance, because it doesn’t have a foundation.

That concept of substance and function develops much throughout the fifth, sixth, and seventh centuries; but in the eighth century, the Buddhists had to develop a theory that would bring Buddhism down to earth instead of always going up to Nirvana or thinking that Nirvana is always beyond this world. Under the influence of the Taoists’ and Confucians’ emphasis on this world, they had to develop a philosophy of substance and function. They succeeded in representing that synthesis in a beautiful analogy: There is one moon. The moon shines on the lake, the moon shines on the rock, the moon shines on the leaves. They are all different. Each one is real, characteristic, individual, solid, and yet they are different. But those differences depend on this same moonlight which is one, indivisible. In other words, the moon is substance and all these reflections and so on are functions.

That synthesis developed so thoroughly in the Buddhist philosophical scheme that by the tenth and eleventh centuries A.D., the Confucians also had to accommodate that type of philosophy to Confucian ethics and morals. Their success can be summed up in the word jen, which can be translated as goodness, love, or humanity, as an ideal of human nature. The Confucians had always taught that one should be filial to one’s parents, respectful to brothers, reverent, and so on. But to this point, Confucianism had lacked a metaphysical foundation for their ethics. Under the impact of the Buddhists and indirectly because of the influence of the Taoists, they now developed a metaphysics for their ethics, summed up by this word jen. Their resolution of the problem was to define jen as the One—the substance—and all the moralities like honesty, obedience, generosity, freedom, liberality, and so on, as a function of how jen operates in particular relationships and situations. In the relationship with parents, jen becomes filial piety, and so on. Thus, by the tenth or eleventh century, Confucianism had laid a foundation for its whole ethical structure which bound all the moralities into one coherent system. This idea of the function and substance is one of the most important developments in the history of Chinese thought.

Now I must go on to my fourth point. I have been talking about the One and the Many and I have emphasized how Lao Tzu emphasized holding on to the everything. Chuang Chou affirmed that same point by emphasizing paradoxically the differences which make up the One. I think you can have a very good analogy in the American population. The American population is so strong, so good, because it is composed of so many ethnic varieties. I think it makes the strength of this country.

My fourth point is in reference to chapter 38 of the Lao Tzu. It’s very simple. The tao produces one, one produces two, and two produces three. Some of my students say, “How simple, how naive! Can’t the Chinese count?” And yet these simple sentences have laid the groundwork and provided a pattern for all Chinese metaphysical and cosmological developments. It’s very simple. Let me explain. It all begins with one, however you describe it, in any term. Then it goes into two factors: yin and yangyin, the female element, yang, the male element. It is only by the interplay of these two elements that you have anything. And as a minimum, you have three. Commentators—and there have been something like two thousand commentaries in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean on the Lao Tzu of which over seven hundred are still in existence—do not agree on what the three might be. It does not matter. It simply means multiplicity.

This brief sketch describes the natural evolution of cosmology. There is an almost logical and rational development from the simplicity of the One to the paired states of the Two. In Western terms, they may appear as the psychological states of love and hate; in modern physics, they may be negative and positive; in Christianity or Islam, good and evil. The names do not matter, but the process—two elements working to produce a multiplicity of things—does. This simple formula, developed in the eleventh century as the metaphysics of neo-Confucian philosophy, has formed the basis of Chinese philosophy ever since.

Many philosophers have viewed the Chinese tao as diametrically opposed to Western theology and metaphysics, which is based on a creator—God as the origin of the universe—while the Chinese system may be seen as a kind of natural evolution. Despite the eloquent arguments of those who see the two positions as irreconcilable—particularly Jesuit and Dominican scholarship in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—I see them simply as two ways of looking at the same thing, two perspectives. If we borrow the Indian form of analogy, we can see the Western system as a potter who creates a pot, something you can see, while the Eastern system can be likened to a seed that grows into a flower—not two separate things but a process of growth from simplicity to complexity. But even in these analogies, I do not think the two positions are irreconcilable. A potter who creates a pot has to have a source, a motivation, a power to command; the seed also has to have a source, a power. To me, the two systems are simply two ways of looking at different things.

However, the Chinese system includes another aspect we should discuss. Because the One produces two, everything has yin and yang; everything embraces yin and carries yang; their harmony brings order and peace. But how is a harmony of opposites achieved? Philosophers have identified and argued over at least three ways for several hundred years. One is opposition: one element must overcome the other and dominate it. Happiness should overcome sorrow. The philosophy in China that the husband dominates the wife comes from the same root.

A second resolution is rotation. The seasons show warm summer giving way to cold winter. A father is succeeded by his son. The stock market goes up, then down. (How is it today?) And, as Professor Mather can tell you much better, the Chinese philosophy of history is rotation, one dynasty follows another, up and down.

But the third resolution to this conflict of yin and yang is found in Lao Tzu’s work in chapter 42: harmony makes peace and order. In other words, he does not see these two elements as contrasting. Yes, sometimes they dominate one another; sometimes they rotate. But the essential thing is for the two to harmonize. In the relationship of the husband and wife, who is more important? Lacking one, you cannot become the family. They are equally dignified, equally indispensable, equally important. The father may go outside to earn money and serve in the government. The mother inside not only cooks and washes but brings up the children, teaches religious observances, and many more things. The two, both in and out, are indispensable. You cannot have anything with only the inside but not the outside, nor can you have anything only with yin and not yang or yang without yin. The two must be synthesized, must be mutually identified to be harmonized. The best illustration of that principle, of course, is Chinese landscape painting where mountain and water do not contrast but merge, giving a sense of the wholeness and unity of nature without contrast, shadow, or sharp demarcations. That is also the purpose of the landscape garden; the harmony of oneness coming from a harmony of the two elements was inspired chiefly by Taoist philosophy and Taoist practice.

And finally, our discussion must bring us to the ideal of sheng-sheng, which means to grow and grow, to give life and give further life, to produce and reproduce, to live and have renewal of life. The word sheng is a very prominent one in Lao-Tzu; in fact, the word sheng-sheng itself comes in his chapter 52. The Confucians picked up the idea and grafted it onto their ethics; thus, the whole ethic is to give life, to promote life—in the government to promote economic and social life; in families to continue the life stream by having children. Thus, the doctrine of filial piety is explained not merely in terms of gratitude to parents or the necessity of supporting parents but of continuing this life stream. You have accepted life, which, according to Confucius, is the mandate of heaven. And once you have accepted life, your most sacred duty is to carry on and enrich this life. Sheng-sheng. I am not saying that the Chinese have fulfilled that ideal, but it is their conviction. And Chu Hsi (A.D. 1130–1200), the greatest of all Confucians, did not like Taoism a bit; yet he wrote a commentary on chapter 6 of the Lao Tzu, which says: “The spirit of the valley never dies.” “The spirit of the valley” has been interpreted in mythical terms as a god, among other things, including openness or the mysteriousness of the female principle. That last interpretation is Chu Hsi’s, who says it means “like a mother, a big valley with an openness to give life, the source of life, inexhaustible itself.” With great critical power, Chu Hsi was willing to go so far as to assimilate the idea of sheng-sheng in his own Confucian philosophy—making some connection to the Lao Tzu. That’s something that’s really something.

And that brings us to the relationship between Taoism and Confucianism. I think you can characterize the relationship by a lot of conflicts. Some call Confucianism the way of man and Taoism the way of nature. Well, there is no harm in doing that. Again, the Confucian emphasizes government organization more; Taoism says the less government the better. But it is the common points between the two that have served China well and that have made every Chinese a combination Confucian-Taoist. I have often been asked, “Are you a Confucian or a Taoist?” I say, “I am a chop suey—can’t help it.” And, the convergent point of that mixture is the ideal of sheng-sheng. There can be no doubt that Confucianism has dominated Chinese society in history with Taoism as a strong support.

One of the greatest advances in scholarship came in 1973 and 1974 with the discovery in the southern central part of China—near the home of Mao Tse-tung in Hunan—of two manuscripts of the Lao Tzu written on silk dating back to the second century B.C., which makes them four hundred years older than the manuscripts used by Wang Pi in the third century A.D., the earliest manuscripts known until this discovery in our decade. The surprising thing is that in spite of certain variations in terms, these second century manuscripts almost totally agree with the manuscripts we already had. Thus, the preservation of the text and oral traditions in China were not as unreliable as many people had postulated. The manuscripts we already had are divided into two parts: the first thirty-seven chapters about tao, the way, and the remaining chapters about te, virtue. However, in these newly discovered classics, the part on virtue comes first. As a result, some Mainland scholars claim that Taoism originally put virtue, or method, before tao, or metaphysics. They further claim a second tradition in addition to Taoism as we understand it—a legalist tradition expounding a method of particular virtues which predates traditional Taoism in Chinese history. Since their main support seems to be the fact that the part on te (virtue) comes first, I simply do not feel that there has been enough evidence to say that there is a legalist tradition in Taoism, much less to see it as a legalist tradition in Chinese history. I honestly believe in a much simpler explanation: there are two manuscripts; and when they were put together, one had to come on top.

I mention this point because you may have read some books or articles arguing that Chinese history and tradition have not really been Confucian but legalist because of the historic proliferation of laws, use of torture, and so on. I will be the first to admit that Chinese Confucians have used torture, laws, and punishments. And I admit that China has fought just as many wars as any other country. I am not going to claim that the Chinese have been a peaceful nation or that the Confucians have been a peaceful people. There is this difference, however: when the Confucians use law—and how can they avoid using law in a government?—they are ashamed of it. They try to apologize. Look in their biographies; they never emphasize what they have accomplished with their law or how many people they have punished. Never. They are much too ashamed of it. And that goes back to Confucius and Mencius: government influences people by virtue; and if you use law, they will beat you in the end. Law is no substitute for virtue. If you are a good man, you will have good laws. If you are a bad man, you will have bad laws. That is what Confucius teaches. They apologize; they are not proud of it. The legalists, however, use law as their main instrument whether they are moral or not. That’s the difference between the two, and legalism is fundamentally different from Confucianism.

Now, we must discuss how the Tao Te Ching has determined the direction of religious development in China, particularly in Taoism. The Taoist religion has been frequently described as an imitation of Buddhism. It is said that Taoism has no sound theological basis of its own. Instead, since Buddhism has three Buddhas, Taoism has its three Pure Ones. Buddhism has its canon; so does Taoism. Buddhism has heaven and hell—even though Buddha would have turned in his grave to see Buddhism pick up heaven and hell on its way to China. But the Taoist goes Buddhism better with eighteen hells—plenty of room. And against its eighteen hells are thirty-six heavens, so our chances of going to heaven are two to one. The Buddhists have monasteries; so do the Taoists. No doubt Taoism is imitative.

But Taoism also has certain fundamental distinctions, most of which come out of the Lao Tzu. The first distinction is in its views about creation. The Taoist religion wove into its fabric a lot of folklore and Buddhist stories to construct a doctrine of creation. Connected with creation is the idea of mystery. Tao is described as illusive, inscrutable, indescribable, vague but everywhere, all-present yet with its essence very concrete; it includes further paradoxes such as being stationary yet going everywhere, and so on. It all adds up as a mystery.

In Confucianism is also an element of mystery, but this mystery merely means vastness, beyond our ears and eyes. But in Taoism, the mystery is mystery by nature, inherent mystery, mystery inseparable from its content. Sun has its mystery to evoke in you, color has its mystery to evoke. I think it is this element of mystery that has provided the Chinese with their essential religiosity, because after everything has been described and explained in rational terms, there still remains that particular mystery—life itself.

And here is the final point I wish to make about Taoism: the Taoist will search for long life. Historically, the Chinese have been looking for long life for centuries. There are formulae: meditation, bathing, medicine, food, sacrifice, witchery, all kinds of devices to prolong life. It is said that when the Taoist religion was organized formally about A.D. 146 by Chang Tao Ling, he required everybody to read the Tao Te Ching, partly because the Tao Te Ching talked about long life and no death. In chapter 33, it says one may die but not perish. We do not know what it means; but most people agree that though we may die in the sense of terminating our physical existence, our essential personality will never perish. You can describe that as immortality or whatever you like. It is also said in chapter 59 of the Tao Te Ching that life goes on forever. It is said that the founder of the Taoist religion utilized the Lao Tzu to organize a new religion, perhaps partly for his political movement in the second century A.D. That we do not know. But the idea is inescapable that the search for long life is the essence of Taoism as a religion. In fact, the Chuang Tzu, the second Taoist classic, even mentions some immortals. And the Chinese have been trying all ways that might lead them to become immortal.

When I was a child in the village, once in a while I would hear that an immortal had appeared on the road last night to bring justice to a certain case which had received no real justice through social means. At other times we were told, “Do you remember that beggar in the market? He was an immortal in disguise. He came to help people.” That type of belief gave a lot of confidence and comfort to a lot of people, and inspired them.

For centuries, besides bathing, food, medicine, meditation, and other techniques, the Chinese have sought immortality through alchemy, hoping to turn mercury into gold. Since gold is immutable, you will be too if you can get it into your system. They finally gave up trying in the seventh century; but in the process, they discovered other metals like copper and lead. Many scholars of Chinese civilization credit Taoist experiments in alchemy with China’s great scientific accomplishments. Up to the fifteenth century, the Chinese were either ahead of or on the level of the rest of the world in technological achievements. I mention gunpowder and paper as two. (After the Renaissance, of course, the West shot ahead and China stayed behind.)

All of this is merely to underline that Lao Tzu has meant a lot to the Chinese in philosophy, in religion, and in science. Taoism is an excellent thing; and the more you read the Lao Tzu, the more you like it. It is very much like the best kind of tea—the more you sip, the more fragrant you find it. You ask me how much a pound? Priceless, but it is free.