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You might have heard of the famous saying, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The man behind this saying is none other than Lao Tzu, otherwise known as “Laozi”. He was a famous Chinese philosopher who was believed to have founded philosophical Taoism.
History of the Old Master
Lao Tzu literally translates to “Old Master” or “Old Sage”. He was known to serve as a records officer in Central China. During his time as an archivist, he had access to ancient texts and royal proceedings. Even though some of his peers at work had a different take on things, Tzu got along with them just fine.
He was known to be the epitome of calmness and widely opposed violence. He eventually resigned from his post as records officer. This is partly due to him not agreeing with the principles of politics during that time.
Tzu had a huge following despite not having a formal education. He would speak, and people would gather silently to listen. His peers and students were able to relate to him on a personal level. His wisdom allowed him to communicate with people of all ages and touch their lives.
Lao Tzu and Confucius
Confucius was one of his most prominent peers then. Traditional accounts claim that they wrote a book about wisdom together. The teachings of Confucius are often associated with a strong sense of responsibility.
Tzu’s approach to the way of life is through “wu wei” or inaction in terms of worries and anxiety. Both philosophers emphasize the importance of kindness in everyday living. Additionally, both of them strongly recommend against having excessive ambition. The two philosophers found this to have a detrimental effect on achieving true happiness in life.
Tao Te Ching
Tzu’s most influential work in history is his book called “Tao Te Ching“. It is a fundamental reference for Taoism and was widely used by ancient rulers in the past. It basically contains Tzu’s teachings about the “way” to harmony and living with happiness. It served as an inspiration to poets, scholars, and noblemen. The text also played a huge role in Chinese philosophy and religion.
There are a lot of different translations of the text since its writing. In general, Tzu’s work highlights certain “rules” to win one’s battles in life.
It also contained poems of the same theme and was widely used by scholars and rulers. It was said in the past that the text might not have been written by Tzu alone, but with the help of other scholars. What’s certain is that the text embodies what Tzu preached in his life as a philosopher.
Chinese characters have unique symbols and strokes that could be interpreted in many ways. Essentially, “tao” means “way” or “path”, and “te” means “virtue” or “morality”. Lastly, “ching” means mean “rule” or “power”. There are a lot of accepted translations for this title, but the most common is “The Way and Its Virtues”.
Why We Need to Be Empty
The famous Chinese philosopher suggests that we all be empty. He says humans should empty themselves in terms of worry and anxiety. Sometimes, too much ambition could get in the way of living. Meditation is important in connecting with ourselves. Eliminating our worries means eliminating the darkness. This is where the “light” comes from. From there, we get to know ourselves better.
Our Inner Self, According to Lao Tzu
Getting in touch with one’s true and spiritual self is also one of his most famous teachings. Tzu says that if only we let go of what we are, then we might become what we might be. This means we should not be too focused on creating an image of who we are supposed to be.
Instead, we must focus on who we are right now. That’s how we could live a life filled with fulfillment. Tzu said that to become connected with our true self, we must evaluate our heart and from there, we will have our answers.
Life: One with Nature
Tzu’s approach to living a harmonious life is quite simple and straightforward. Mindfulness is among one of his most famous teachings. The philosopher suggests eliminating our habit of constantly worrying. Tzu strongly believes that we should wait for the natural course of things instead.
He compares human achievement and growth with nature. The sun intensifies its glaze when it’s summer. Leaves turn dry and fall from the trees when it’s time. Flowers show their beautiful blossoms when it’s spring. Snow reveals itself when all of the other seasons have passed.
Tzu often preached about this parallel phenomenon. There is a purpose behind us humans coexisting with nature. Tzu suggests that in order for us to live a harmonious life, we must live with nature. Further, we need to understand that we humans have the same fate as the trees and the flowers. We will thrive and flourish in our own time, just like the kind of nature we live in.
Here are several of the best of Lao Tzu’s most inspiring quotes:
Lao Tzu Quotes
“If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.” – Lao Tzu
“The best fighter is never angry.” – Lao Tzu
“A man with outward courage dares to die: a man with inner courage dares to live.” – Lao Tzu
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
“Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.” – Lao Tzu
“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.” – Lao Tzu
“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. if you are at peace, you are living in the present.” – Lao Tzu
“Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power.” – Lao Tzu
“Be content with what you have, rejoice in the way things are. When you realise there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” – Lao Tzu
“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” – Lao Tzu
“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” – Lao Tzu
“New beginnings are disguised as painful endings.” – Lao Tzu
“Stop thinking and end your problems.” – Lao Tzu
“Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity, reduce selfishness, have few desires.” – Lao Tzu
“Make your heart like a lake with a calm still surface and great depths of kindness.” – Lao Tzu
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” – Lao Tzu
“Great acts are made up of small deeds.” – Lao Tzu
“He who is contented is rich.” – Lao Tzu
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” – Lao Tzu
“To a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.” – Lao Tzu
“The heart that gives, gathers.” – Lao Tzu
“Confidence is the greatest friend.” – Lao Tzu
“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.” – Lao Tzu
“Silence is a source of great strength.” – Lao Tzu
“Be still like a mountain, and flow like a great river.” – Lao Tzu
“Act without expectation.” – Lao Tzu
“Use the light that is within you to revert to your natural clearness of sight.” – Lao Tzu
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” – Lao Tzu
“Watch your thoughts, they become your words. Watch your words, they become your actions. Watch your actions, they become your habits. Watch your habits, they become your character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” – Lao Tzu
“Health is the greatest possession.” – Lao Tzu
“Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it.” – Lao Tzu
“Empty yourself of everything – let the mind become still.” – Lao Tzu
“By letting go, it all gets done.” – Lao Tzu
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” – Lao Tzu
“Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” – Lao Tzu
“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu
“Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.” – Lao Tzu
“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.”- Lao Tzu
“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” – Lao Tzu
“The truth is not always beautiful, nor does beautiful word the truth.” – Lao Tzu
“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream.” – Lao Tzu
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” – Lao Tzu
“Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?” – Lao Tzu
“The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.” – Lao Tzu
“Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment.” – Lao Tzu
“To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.” – Lao Tzu
“If you try to change it, you will ruin it. Try to hold it, and you will lose it.” – Lao Tzu
“The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself.” – Lao Tzu
“Water is the softest thing, yet it can penetrate mountains and earth. This shows clearly the principle of softness overcoming hardness.” – Lao Tzu