Lao Tzu and Tao Te Ching What is Tao Te Ching Tao Te Ching the Book about Tao and Its Characteristics was traditionally assigned to Lao Tzu, but there are also passages of the book which claim the Taoist masterpiece was never the work of a single author but of a large collective of philosophers sharing the same views about life, world and wisdom. All the topics of Taoism are borrowed from it. In short, Lao Tzu explains what is Tao, the core concept of Taoism, and its basic features such as:
The name that can be named is not the enduring and unchanging name. Conceived of as having no name, it is the Originator of heaven and earth; conceived of as having a name, it is the Mother of all things.
Always without desire we must be found, If its deep mystery we would sound; But if desire always within us be, Its outer fringe is all that we shall see. Under these two aspects, it is really the same; but as development takes place, it receives the different names.
Together we call them the Mystery. Where the Mystery is the deepest is the gate of all that is subtle and wonderful. All in the world know the beauty of the beautiful, and in doing this they have the idea of what ugliness is; they all know the skill of the skilful, and in doing this they have the idea of what the want of skill is.
So it is that existence and non-existence give birth the one to the idea of the other; that difficulty and ease produce the one the idea of the other; that length and shortness fashion out the one the figure of the other; that the ideas of height and lowness arise from the contrast of the one with the other; that the musical notes and tones become harmonious through the relation of one with another; and that being before and behind give the idea of one following another.
Therefore the sage manages affairs without doing anything, and conveys his instructions without the use of speech.
All things spring up, and there is not one which declines to show itself; they grow, and there is no claim made for their ownership; they go through their processes, and there is no expectation of a reward for the results. The work is accomplished, and there is no resting in it as an achievement.
The work is done, but how no one can see; 'Tis this that makes the power not cease to be. Therefore the sage, in the exercise of his government, empties their minds, fills their bellies, weakens their wills, and strengthens their bones.
He constantly tries to keep them without knowledge and without desire, and where there are those who have knowledge, to keep them from presuming to act on it.
When there is this abstinence from action, good order is universal. How deep and unfathomable it is, as if it were the Honoured Ancestor of all things! We should blunt our sharp points, and unravel the complications of things; we should attemper our brightness, and bring ourselves into agreement with the obscurity of others.
How pure and still the Tao is, as if it would ever so continue! I do not know whose son it is. It might appear to have been before God. Heaven and earth do not act from the impulse of any wish to be benevolent; they deal with all things as the dogs of grass are dealt with.
The sages do not act from any wish to be benevolent; they deal with the people as the dogs of grass are dealt with. May not the space between heaven and earth be compared to a bellows? Much speech to swift exhaustion lead we see; Your inner being guard, and keep it free.
Its gate, from which at first they issued forth, Is called the root from which grew heaven and earth. Long and unbroken does its power remain, Used gently, and without the touch of pain. The reason why heaven and earth are able to endure and continue thus long is because they do not live of, or for, themselves.
This is how they are able to continue and endure. Therefore the sage puts his own person last, and yet it is found in the foremost place; he treats his person as if it were foreign to him, and yet that person is preserved. Is it not because he has no personal and private ends, that therefore such ends are realised?
The excellence of water appears in its benefiting all things, and in its occupying, without striving to the contrarythe low place which all men dislike. Hence its way is near to that of the Tao.
The excellence of a residence is in the suitability of the place; that of the mind is in abysmal stillness; that of associations is in their being with the virtuous; that of government is in its securing good order; that of the conduct of affairs is in its ability; and that of the initiation of any movement is in its timeliness.
And when one with the highest excellence does not wrangle about his low positionno one finds fault with him. If you keep feeling a point that has been sharpened, the point cannot long preserve its sharpness.
When gold and jade fill the hall, their possessor cannot keep them safe. When wealth and honours lead to arrogancy, this brings its evil on itself. When the work is done, and one's name is becoming distinguished, to withdraw into obscurity is the way of Heaven.
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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 B.C.E. However, some authorities have him being born about B.C.E.
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