Without a doubt, you’ve heard his name before.
Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher born around the fourth or fifth century B.C. and who authored the Tao Te Ching, has for some time in the West been a household name. Without a doubt, that speaks to the impact he’s had on the world as a whole, given the fact that he was able to travel halfway around the world and impart his wisdom so expansively after having passed over 2,500 years ago.
I can’t speak for ages past, but I can say with certainty that we have a greater need for Lao Tzu’s wisdom today, in a world filled with turmoil and strife, then I’ve ever seen. Lao Tzu’s wisdom rings with both a practicality and depth that makes his words both significantly valuable and often easy to apply (or at least see how they can be applied so you can take action on them).
Over the past 25 centuries, there have been many translations of Lao Tzu’s work, and there’s no agreement as to what the most accurate of those translations is, but in my experience, his work is no less impactful no matter what version you read.
20 Lao Tzu Quotes to Inspire Greatness and Instill Wisdom
Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.
Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.
The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself.
Music in the soul can be heard by the universe.
I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.
Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.
The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness.
If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.
He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.
Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.
Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.
A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.
When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.’
In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.
Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is Enlightenment.
Those who know do not say. Those who say do not know.
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
People in their handlings of affairs often fail when they are about to succeed. If one remains as careful at the end as he was at the beginning, there will be no failure.
Great acts are made up of small deeds.
A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live.