Lao Tzu and the “Tao Te Ching”
Laozi or Lao Tzu, was a mystical philosopher who lived in ancient China. Most scholars believe Lao Tzu was born around 600 B.C.E. However, some authorities have him being born about 500 B.C.E. and some, question if Lao Tzu was actually a person or just a mythical figure. Generally, the majority of scholars believe Lao Tzu to be an actual person being born about 600 B.C.E. in the state of Ch’u, now known as the Hunan Province in Southern China according to the Shinji. His surname was Li and his given name was Er. Not much is known about the early life of Lao Tzu nor about his life in general, though he is considered the founder of Taoism and the writer of the “Tao Te Ching” which the practices of Taoism are based on.
As a mystic, Lao Tzu, meaning “old sage,” led a quiet, contemplative life. Working in the emperor’s library for many years and keeping mostly to himself, Lao Tzu realized and learned how to practice “the tao” or “the way.” He later wrote about his realizations about “the way” in the “Tao Te Ching” which literally translates to “The Way and Law of Natural Goodness.” Of the Taoist writings that exist today as part of present day Taoism, the “Tao Te Ching” is regarded as being the most influential Taoist text and no other book has been published in more languages other than the Bible.
The “Tao Te Ching” consists of eighty one chapters. Different branches of Taoism have differing beliefs. However, there are core beliefs which are observed by most Taoists that focus of on the concepts of “wu” or emptiness, nothingness, “wu-wei” or non-doing, action through inaction, and “fu” or all things returning to their origins. The goal of the Taoist is to find the eternal way, not through a specific way or rituals, but by the infinite way of the universe itself. As “Tao” refers to the way, the “Te” refers to “virtue, goodness or integrity” which is the expression or essence of “Ching”...
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