Posts tagged ‘tao te ching’

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?

In Taoism, the Tao, or Way, can be understood in many ways.

First, the Tao is the way of ultimate reality. It is the ground of all existence, but it goes beyond the senses and words. The first lines of the Tao Te Ching, the scripture of Taoism, state this:

The Tao that can be followed is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.


Explain these lines.

The Tao Te Ching, the first book of Taoism, says that humankind follows the earth, the earth follows nature, and nature follows the Tao.


In what ways does humankind follow the earth? Do we also fail to follow it?

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