Lao-tzu (c. 604 BC—c. 531 BC)
Lao-tzu is considered the first philosopher of Chinese Taoism, and the traditional principal author of the Tao-te Ching (The Way). A royal scribe in the court of the Zhou dynasty, he is venerated as a god or saint by the common people of China; as the representative of Tao; and as a great philosopher by Confucianists.
The Tao-te Ching shaped development of Taoist religion, Confucianism and Buddhism. It has strongly molded Chinese life and influenced cultures worldwide. Grounded in Lao-tzu’s Tao-te Ching, Taoist philosophy concentrates on individual life, and tranquility. It advocates quietness, peace, harmony, simplicity, naturalism, passivity, individualism, reflection, introspection, and freedom.
Some gems of wisdom from the Tao-te Ching:
He who knows others is wise.
He who knows himself is enlightened.
He who knows does not speak.
He who speaks does not know.
To pretend to know when you do not know is a disease.
To know that you do not know is the best.
Health is the greatest possession.
Contentment is the greatest treasure.
Confidence is the greatest friend.
Non-being is the greatest joy.
The greatest revelation is stillness.
The Tao-te Ching has come to serve as a manual on the art of living. It was written during a time of great political turbulence in China as a treatise on the art of governing, whether of a country or of a child. It is written in a very clear style, with humor, simplicity, and priceless wisdom for humanity. Lao-tzu wrote, ‘The Way of the sage is to act but not to compete.’ In other words, live a virtuous life without striving to be superior. When two snowflakes are side by side, neither is more beautiful than the other.
Lao-tzu’s ancient wisdom may be applied in today’s world. Don't accumulate things, relationships, or obligations. Be satisfied with basic comforts. Control impulses. Use meditative opportunities. Accept uncertainty and ambiguity. Value solitude, softness, adaptability, and endurance. Be compassionate. Let go of control, and value others as equals. In order to embody the good, look beyond valuations of good and evil. Find reward in the journey, not the destination.