Lao Tzu and the "Tao Te Ching"

Good Essays
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” or



Cited: “About Lao Tzu.” www.1000ventures.com/business_guide/crosscuttings/cultures_lao_tzu.html “Great Philosophers.” oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl201/modules/Philosophers/LaoTzu/laotzu.html “History of Taoism.” history.cultural-china.com/en/166History5044.html “Laozi.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. May 5, 2007. oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl201/modules/Philosophers/LaoTzu/laotzu.html

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    Lao Tzu - Tao Te Ching

    • 350 Words
    • 2 Pages

    Lao-Tzu - Journal The concepts and ideas of the Tao-Te Ching may be a hard to grasp at first, but that is partially the point. For “The tao that can be told, is not the eternal Tao (Verse 1). Those who think they know everything, do not. It does not help to know the Tao, it just is. To think like Lao-Tzu, a person must let go of everything they think they know. Today, this is a very difficult task for most because there is so much a person stands for and believes in. However, The Tao-Te Ching…

    • 350 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Tao-te-ching

    • 1034 Words
    • 5 Pages

    Lao-tzu’s views are typical traditional Chinese style of logic, which is based on the primary assumption that man is born kind (as indicated in Three-word Chant), and external stimuli such as prohibitions and weapons are the cause of evil. Since “kind” is so ambiguous a concept, we cannot trace back to see what Lao-tzu really meant by his arguments. But if we use modern definitions of “kind”, “of a good or benevolent nature or disposition”, we can see that such view is opposed to today’s understanding…

    • 1034 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Tao Te Ching

    • 497 Words
    • 2 Pages

    of the most famous Chinese readings The Tao Te Ching, a founding text of Taoism. Taoism is a Chinese philosophical and religious tradition. Taoism is best known as nature, two opposites interacting with equal forces. Tao is indescribable, and it’s an abstract concept, progression of the universe and natural order. An aspect of its nature is highlighted throughout The Tao Te Ching. In the translation by Waley, he says how people should live life. The Tao Ching encourage one to look for enlightenment…

    • 497 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The Tao Te Ching

    • 878 Words
    • 4 Pages

    Ngon Tran John fielding English 1A 25 August 2013 The Way The Tao te Ching is a Chinese classic text. It was written in sixth century BC, by Laozi. The author was a philosopher of the very old china. The author has written the text with the short poems, natural imagery, and a gentle tone. Laozi has wanted to focus the principle of “Tao” with doing and undoing idea. The text teaches that people should live in a balanced life as well as a simple mind. The bad things such as…

    • 878 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    September, 2011 Tao Te Ching Underneath the mysterious language, numerous paradoxes, and ambiguity of the Tao Te Ching lies a helpful, concise passage and interesting way of life. Its complex yet simple verses can give one great insight on moral behavior and righteousness, how to live life simply, face and deal with struggles in both society as a whole and our daily lives, and how civilization should be governed. Written by Lao Tzu, meaning Old Master, Thoughts from the Tao-Te Ching is just a small…

    • 1653 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Who Is Tao Te Ching

    • 514 Words
    • 3 Pages

    Tao Te Ching The author of Tao Te Ching might have not existed, but what makes his work important is the intention of approach. The Tao Te Ching is an ancient Chinese text that literally means “classic”, “way” and “virtue”, and is a cornerstone of philosophical Taoism. It is attributed to Lao Tzu or “old Master”, who lived during the 6th century BC, he was an insider , record- keeper at the court of the Zhou Dynasty, who was disillusioned by the hunger for power and believed people are inherently…

    • 514 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    Tao Te Ching Analysis

    • 1659 Words
    • 7 Pages

    The Tao Te Ching is a book that is very well known in the scholarly community. The text itself appears to have a myriad on self-contradictions, not to mention the debate many scholars have over the various translations available. One of the more interesting contradictions on the Tao Te Ching is over learning. In the book it is often referenced that learning is important when it comes to the way, but then goes on to say in other sections that learning should essentially be exterminated. I propose…

    • 1659 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    The thoughts of Tao Te Ching (Philosophy) The first thing that struck me about Tao Te Ching is Albert Einstein. I am a big fan of Einstein, perplexed by years of studying his scientific theories and thereafter forever being awed by his genius. As for Taoism, being of Chinese descent, growing up in the eastern world, I have constant exposure to the Taoist practices, culture, traditions, images and symbols. However, the irony is that I had never ventured further than just being a mere observer…

    • 819 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Te Ching And Lao Tzu's

    • 111 Words
    • 1 Page

    seen as a teacher on how to live by right action. These teaching are aimed at all individuals but some religions may also focuses on certain individuals like rulers. Taoism is one religion that directs a focus towards the correct way to rule. Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching addresses both questions. Tzu’s work concentrates on how to live in a discoordinated life, including politics. The compilation of poems describes the Tao’s contradicting essence and its power through efficacy.…

    • 111 Words
    • 1 Page
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Thoughts on Tao Te Ching

    • 684 Words
    • 2 Pages

    How to Live Your Life According to the Tao The lesson that I take from Tao Te Ching is that everything comes and goes; nothing is set in stone forever, and times will always change. It being said that nothing stays the same forever, there are patterns and cycles in life. I notice these cycles in more than just life. I notice them in the world as well. One example of where these cycles are rather noticeable is in the seasons. Each year we go from spring, to summer, to fall, and finally to my least…

    • 684 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays