The Eternal Wisdom:

World Cultures

Lao Tzu

Chinese philosopher, the founder of Taoism (born app.500 BC)

 

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"If you really want everything, then give up everything." ~ Lao Tzu

Quotes from Tao Te Ching

The Tao "The Way"

  • The Tao principle is what happens of itself.

  • The Tao is told is not the Tao.

  • The Tao never acts with force, yet there is nothing that it can not do.

  • The great Way is easy, yet people prefer the side paths. Be aware when things are out of balance. Stay centered within the Tao.

  • As it acts in the world, the Tao is like the bending of a bow. The top is bent downward; the bottom is bent up. It adjusts excess and deficiency so that there is perfect balance.

  • Tao loves and nourishes all things, but does not dominate it over them.

  • When good thing are accomplished, it does not claim (or name) them. This is Te, which is close in meaning to power or virtue. It is something within a person, and it is enhanced by following the Tao, or 'that from which nothing can deviate'.

  • When Simplicity is broken up, it is made into instruments. Evolved individuals who employ them, are made into leaders. In this way, the Great System is United.

Living the Tao

  • Those who know don't talk, those who talk don't know.

  • Intelligent people know others. Enlightened people know themselves.

  • The Master observes the world, but trusts his inner vision. He allows things to come and go. His heart is as open as the sky.

  • If you can find true contentment, it will last forever.

  • Can you step back from your own mind and thus understand all things?

  • When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.

  • Embrace simplicity. Put others first. Desire little.

  • I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.

  • No disaster is worse than being discontented.

  • Success is as dangerous as failure, and we are often our own worst enemy.

  • The journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step.

  • Confront the difficult while it is still easy; accomplish the great task by a series of small acts.

  • When you have accomplished your goal simply walk away. This is the path way to Heaven

  • Love the whole world as if it were your self; then you will truly care for all things.

  • A sage is skilled at helping people without excluding anyone.

  • The Master doesn't seek fulfillment. For only those who are not full are able to be used which brings the feeling of completeness.

  • Quiet your mind and stop judging and resisting and manipulating the natural way.

  • Allow your softer, more intuitive, and less dominating feminine qualities to rise to the fore, so that you're surrendering rather than dominating, receiving rather than broadcasting, loving rather than fighting.

  • That which offers no resistance, overcomes the hardest substances.
    That which offers no resistance can enter where there is no space.
    Few in the world can comprehend the teaching without words,
    or understand the value of non-action.

  • Can you love or guide someone without any kind of expectation?

  • Nurture the spontaneous peaceful life.

  • Don't impose your will through manipulation of aggressive emotions and actions

  • If you worry more for others' beliefs, then you will be their slave.

  • There is no greater transgression than condoning peoples selfish desires, no greater disaster than being discontent, and no greater retribution than for greed.

  • Rule your mind with serenity rather than with force and manipulation.

  • Approach your own inner life with a loving quality that accepts who you are without trying to change who you are.

  • Having reached a high level of realization (or having accomplished anything in life), don't get excited or puffed up with pride but remain calm, humble, and in "perfect equanimity" if you want to continue in this deep state of consciousness.

 

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About Lao Tzu

Lao Tzu was born in app. 500 BC, in southern China in the state of Ch'u, now known as the Hunan Province. Almost nothing is known about Lao Tzu apart from what can be gleaned from the legends that surround his name. His book of spiritual reflections called the Tao Te Ching (The Way Virtue Progress) has been published in more languages than any book except the Bible.1

For at least fifty years, Lao Tzu worked in the emperor's library, kept mostly to himself, and was considered a recluse and a mystic of deep wisdom. To our knowledge, all during his long tenure at the Imperial Archives Lao Tzu wrote no books, nor did he allow any disciples to gather around him.

Lao Tzu

Confucius, the venerable philosopher who was born a generation after Lao Tzu, once sought out Lao Tzu for an interview, during which Lao Tzu told the soon-to-be-famous philosopher and moralist: "Strip yourself of your proud airs and numerous desires, your complacent demeanor and excessive ambitions. They won't do you any good. This is all I have to say you." Following this now-famous interview with the old man, young Confucius said to his disciples, "I don't know how dragons can ride upon the wind and clouds and soar to high heaven. I saw Lao Tzu today. He can be likened to a dragon."1

 

Lao Tzu lived a simple contemplative life in which he learned step by step by step how to practice what he understood to be "the Way" or "the Path" or in Chinese, the Tao. Throughout his life, "he walked his walk but didn't much talk any talk."1

Yin and Yang

Yin-Yang of Communication

Yin-Yang  of Listening

Yin-Yang of Influencing People

According to Henry Way2, "Lao Tzu may rightly be regarded as an immortal inspirer. His teachings constitute a bright beacon for the guidance of the human spirit to supreme fulfillment... He led a long, quiet and studious life and then vanished from the human scene, leaving behind a compact parcel of sublime wisdom in glorious poetry... He was not exactly a hermit or recluse, but simply loved the contemplative life. He preferred to stay in obscurity in the silence of the library, devoting himself to inner culture and the pursuit of truth, living with serene spontaneity and natural ease."2

Lao Tzu wrote his only book Tao Te Ching just before he walked away from the Chou empire he served. One day the old man decided to take his leave of the city and simply started walking towards the distant mountain pass. "Arriving at the gate leading out of the Chou empire, he was halted by the keeper of the border, a man named Yin Hsi, who asked him, "Before you retire entirely from the world, will you please write some words for our enlightenment?" Lao Tzu obviously agreed, because before he walked out through the gates and disappeared into anther kingdom and who-knows-what personal life experience, he left with Yin Hsi a slender collection of eighty-one short poems and reflections, consisting in total of only around five thousand words."1

The Tao of Leadership

The leader is best,

When people are hardly aware of his existence,

Not so good when people praise his government,

Less good when people stand in fear,

Worst, when people are contemptuous.

Fail to honor people, and they will fail to honor you.

But of a good leader, who speaks little

When his work is done, his aim fulfilled,

The people say, 'We did it ourselves.'

Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.

The Master leads by purifying people's minds, filling their bellies, weakening their ambitions, and making them become strong.

The more regulations there are, the poorer the people.

Humanity attained unity that they might flourish. Their leaders attained unity that they might set the example.

 

 

 

References:

  1. Seven Masters, One Path, John Selby

  2. The Guiding Light of Lao Tzu: A New Translation of the "Tao Te Ching", Henry We

  3. Effective Leadership Masterclass, John Adair