Words of wisdom survive all changes throughout time and inspire many different generations. The lessons taught by Lao Tzu, a central figure in China for centuries and one of the most famous Chinese philosophers of all time, are of great importance to be learned.
He is the author of the Tao Te Ching, a guide to all spiritual students, and the founder of philosophical Taoism. It is believed that he had been a record keeper in the court of the central Chinese Zhou Dynasty in the 6th century B.C., and an older contemporary of Confucius.
Moral corruption made Lao Tzu grow tired of life and he left the Zhou court, and according to a legend, he crossed the western border of the Chinese empire and disappeared from history, perhaps to become a hermit.
Nowadays, there are at least twenty million Taoists around the world, especially in China and Taiwan. The Tao Te Ching contains 81 brief chapters, all of which reveal wisdom about human nature, life, and consciousness.
Lao Tzu sees Tao as the ‘formless eternal consciousness’ that created the entire universe: “There was something formless and perfect before the universe was born. It is serene. Empty. Solitary. Unchanging. Infinite. Eternally present. It is the mother of the universe. For lack of a better name, I call it the Tao.”
He advised people to live in peace with themselves and others, and his pearls of wisdom help people attain self-realization and find harmony with themselves and the world.
Here are some of his most important quotes:
1. Be yourself and love your own self, and others will love you too.
“Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner.”
“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.”
2. Ignore evil until you kill it.
“Give evil nothing to oppose and it will disappear by itself.”
3. The answer you are looking for is in yourself.
“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”
4. Be humble.
“All streams flow to the sea because it is lower than they are. Humility gives it its power.”
“The wise man is one who, knows, what he does not know.”
5. There is no true happiness in your ego.
“He who tries to shine dims his own light.”
“He who defines himself can’t know who he really is.”
“He who has power over others can’t empower himself.”
6. Accept change and embrace it.
“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.”
“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.”
7. Goodness and kindness always win.
“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”
“Treat those who are good with goodness, and also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained. Be honest to those who are honest, and be also honest to those who are not honest. Thus honesty is attained.”
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
8. Be patient and learn the art of letting go.
“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond the winning.”
“Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?”
“If you want to become whole, let yourself be partial. If you want to become straight, let yourself be crooked. If you want to become full, let yourself be empty. If you want to be reborn, let yourself die. If you want to be given everything, give everything up.”
“Therefore the Master acts without doing anything and teaches without saying anything. Things arise and she lets them come; things disappear and she lets them go. She has but doesn’t possess acts but doesn’t expect. When her work is done, she forgets it. That is why it lasts forever.”