Posts tagged ‘china’

The oldest printed book in the world was printed in China around 868 C.E. It is a copy of the Diamond Sutra, one of the teachings of the Buddha. The sutra ends with these lines:

Think of this fleeting world
As a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.


What do you think the Buddha meant by this?

The legendary founder of Taoism was a philosopher named Lao Tzu who lived in China around 600 B.C.E. (His name is also sometimes spelled Laotse.) Once story about Lao Tzu says that Confucius, another Chinese philosopher, once visited him. Asked about the visit, Confucius said:

Of birds I know they have wings to fly with,
of fish they have fins to swim with,
of wild beasts that they have feet to run with.
For feet there are traps, for fins nets, for wings arrows.
But who knows how dragons surmount wind and clouds into heaven?
This day I have seen Lao Tzu and he is a dragon.


What do you think Confucius meant by this?

When he was 160, Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism, left China so that he could pursue a natural life somewhere else. He mounted a water buffalo and rode toward the boundaries of China.

A warden at the boundary had dreamed that a sage would come. When Lao Tzu arrived, he recognized him as the sage from his dream. The warden begged him to write down the principles of his philosophy.

Lao Tzu sat down and composed the Tao Te Ching (pronounced “dow dir jing”). He then remounted his water buffalo and rode off. No one ever heard of him again. Translated as “The Way and its Power,” the Tao Te Ching is the central scripture of Taoism.


No one knows whether or not this story of the Tao Te Ching is true. If it happened at all, it was about 2,500 years ago. Do you think it matters whether or not the story of writing the Tao Te Ching is true?

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