Posts tagged ‘lao tzu’

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?

The philosopher Lao Tzu is considered the founder of Taoism. Nobody is sure, though, whether or not he actually existed. We don’t even know what his real name was; Lao Tzu means “The Old Man” or “The Grand Old Master.”

Lao Tzu didn’t try to organize a religion. He didn’t preach. He only wrote his ideas down because a border patrolman asked him to. Having written the Tao Te Ching, the central scripture of Taoism, Lao Tzu rode off and was never heard of again.


Does this description fit with your idea of the type of person who would found a religion? Why or why not?

According to the philosopher Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism, most people do not live an authentic life. They live in a way that society suggests they live. People tend not to do things for themselves or to find out what they truly want. Instead they often do the things others want them to do.


What does it mean to be authentic? What would it mean to live an authentic life?

The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism, is credited with saying, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”


What does this mean? Rewrite this saying in your own words.

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