Ancient Wisdom for Our Times

These words of ancient wisdom for our times were offered centuries ago by Lao Tzu. He is the famous author of the Tao Te Ching, the Book of Changes. My copy of the Tao Te Ching dates back to 1969 or 1970.

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.
– Lao Tzu


Lao Tzu’s words echo the teachings of the Buddha and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.

The Buddha was supposed to have said, “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment,”, but this is supposedly not true. The closest match to this false statement is:

Do not pursue the past.
Do not lose yourself in the future.
The past no longer is.
The future has not yet come.
Looking deeply at life as it is
in the very here and now,
the practitioner dwells
in stability and freedom.
– from The Sutra on Knowing the Better Way to Live Alone by Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh puts it this way:

My path is the path of stopping, the path of enjoying the present moment.
It is a path where every step brings me back to my true home.
It is a path that leads nowhere.
I am on my way home. I arrive at every step.

Which one of these quotes resonates with you the most? I truly have a hard time picking one. They all have the benefit of reminding us to live happily in the present moment.

Books by Lao Tzu


Tao Te Ching: A new interpretive translation

Lao Tzu

The Tao Te Ching is believed to have been written in China during the 6th Century BCE by the legendary philosopher named Lao-tzu (Old Master). Divided into 81 sections, or chapters, the book contains insights into subjects as diverse as the nature of reality and how governments should lead their peo… [Read More…]

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