1999 0-7734-3255-8 This book includes a detailed analysis of the life of Lao-zi as man and myth, and discussions of the genesis of his school. It argues that the school of Lao-zi (‘laoism’) was one of the most mystical and occult branches of early Chinese thought, and actually has no direct relation with Taoism except some mythological allusions. The text of ‘Lao-zi’ represents compilations of the sacral formulas mixed with profane commentaries added some centuries later. The book contains a fully annotated translation of “Lao-zi” and commentaries of Chinese scholars from the Middle Ages. It analyzes about a dozen versions of the text from the 2nd century BC to the 13th century AD, discusses the practice of early Taoist contemplation, rituals, and its transformations up to the present. This book will be useful not only for professional specialists in history, philosophy, and oriental studies, but also for those in world history and philosophical thought. Alexei Maslov is a well-known Russian Orientalist scholar, and the main part of this book is based on his lecturing courses in the Sinological Institute of Heidelberg University and the University of Leeds.