The 35 Best Quotes by Lao Tse, The Father of Taoism
Lao Tse (also called Lao Tzu, Lao Zi, Laozi or Laotian) is considered one of the most influential philosophers of Chinese civilization. He is credited with founding Taoism, one of the most widely practiced philosophical and religious traditions in China, which emphasizes living in harmony with the Tao (“the way”).
The exact period in which Lao Tse lived is unknown. In fact, many details about his existence are still under debate. However, Chinese tradition states that he may have lived in the 6th century BC.
In order to appreciate his wise teachings, here is a list of Lao Tse’s best quotes.
35 memorable quotes by Lao Tse
Lao Tse is known as the author of the Tao Te Ching, an essential work that gathers the principles of Taoism. According to this book, the Tao refers to the natural order of the universe.
To follow this order, it’s necessary to develop virtues, such as compassion, kindness, simplicity, fairness, introspection, and harmony with nature. That said, let’s see how he promotes this philosophy of life in his most famous quotes.
Quotes on goodness and fairness
1. “If you practice fairness, even if you die, you will not perish.”
2. “You must surrender to your own self-interest. Love others as much as yourself. Then you can trust in all things under heaven.”
3. “Give and you shall have plenty.”
4. “If you give fish to a hungry man, you feed him for a day. If you teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”
5. “When you realize that what you do to another, you do to yourself, you will have understood a great truth.”
6. “The wise man does not accumulate. The more he helps others, the more he benefits himself. The more he gives to others, the more he gets for himself.”
7. ” Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thought creates depth. Kindness in giving creates love.”
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Quotes by Lao Tse on introspection and self-knowledge
8. He who masters others is strong; he who masters himself is powerful.”
9. “At the core of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”
10. “To recognize that you don’t truly know anything is humility. To think you know what you don’t know is insanity.”
11. “He who knows people is reasonable. He who knows himself is enlightened.”
12. “May your body and your vital soul be united in an inseparable embrace.”
13. “A man with outer courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live.”
Lao Tse’s quotes on the ambition for power and on violence
14. “He who aims for world domination or for improving the world is heading for failure. The world is so sacred and vast that it cannot be dominated. He who masters it makes it worse; he who has it loses it.”
15. “Violence, however well-intentioned, always comes back to oneself.”
16. “The wise person does not covet power and avoids opulence, luxury, and extravagance.”
17. “Moderation is the best virtue for ruling men and serving heaven.”
Quotes by Lao Tse on simplicity and humility
18. He who is not happy with little will not be happy with much”.
19. “He who is satisfied with his share is rich”.
20. “To lead people, walk behind them”.
21. “Do not seek to show off! The wise person, who has known his higher essence, does not indulge in narcissism or exalt himself.”
22. “One should not pour water into a full glass, and there is no sense in sharpening the knife blade too much.”
23. “He who knows that enough is enough, will always have enough.”
24. “He who knows how to be content with what he has will always be happy.”
25. “Loss is not as bad as wanting more.”
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Quotes about wisdom and acceptance
26. “Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it.”
27. “The wise man does not teach by words, but by deeds.”
28. “The wise man always wins because he does not compete.”
29. “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; this only creates pain. Let reality be reality.”
30. “Do the hard things while they’re easy and do the big things while they’re small.”
31. “The good man is the teacher of the bad and the bad man is the lesson of the good.”
32. “The perfection of one who gives orders is to be peaceful; of one who fights, to lack anger; of one who wants to win, not to fight; of one who makes use of men, to put himself beneath them.”
33. “Roads may be guides, but not traced paths.”
34. “He who walks with long strides will not go very far.”
35. “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
Tao is a way of life
Lao Tse’s phrases invite us to cultivate a life in which simplicity, non-violence, self-knowledge, kindness, and compassion predominate. All of these, according to Taoism, will help us to attain immortality. Although this isn’t understood literally, but rather refers to achieving longevity and enjoying it to the fullest.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Yutang L. La filosofía del taoísmo. RUN [Internet]. 1949 [consultado 9 de agosto de 2022]; 14(14):33-9. Disponible en: https://revistas.unal.edu.co/index.php/revistaun/article/view/13753
- Lao Tse. Tao Te King [Internet]. México: Biblioteca Digital del ILCE. [consultado 9 de agosto de 2022]. Disponible en: http://bibliotecadigital.ilce.edu.mx/Colecciones/ObrasClasicas/_docs/TaoTeKing_LaoTse.pdf