Lao Tzu was an ancient philosopher and writer who founded the philosophical framework for Taoism, which has had a huge influence on Chinese culture.
His teachings revolve around respect, relationships and how to live a meaningful life. Many of these philosophies contradict what we are taught in a west and are quite valuable in developing a more grounded worldview.
Below, I’ve selected some of his most potent quotes on different areas of life. Check them out and let us know what you think in the comments!
On Who You Truly Are
“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”
“Knowing others is intelligence;
knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
mastering yourself is true power.”
“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.”
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.”
“If you understand others you are smart.
If you understand yourself you are illuminated.
If you overcome others you are powerful.
If you overcome yourself you have strength.
If you know how to be satisfied you are rich.
If you can act with vigor, you have a will.
If you don’t lose your objectives you can be long-lasting.
If you die without loss, you are eternal.”
“The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself.”
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
The Three Greatest Treasures in Life
“Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.”
“I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. 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.”
On Achieving Your Goals
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.”
“A leader is best
When people barely know he exists
Of a good leader, who talks little,
When his work is done, his aim fulfilled,
They will say, “We did this ourselves.”
“Accomplish but do not boast, accomplish without show, accomplish without arrogance, accomplish without grabbing, accomplish without forcing.”
“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”
On Acceptance and Change
“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.”
“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”
“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”
“If you try to change it, you will ruin it. Try to hold it, and you will lose it.”
“A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live.”
On Peace and Happiness
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
Have few desires.”
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”
“If a person seems wicked, do not cast him away. Awaken him with your words, elevate him with your deeds, repay his injury with your kindness. Do not cast him away; cast away his wickedness.”