Words of Wisdom from Lao Tzu Part 1

These words of wisdom from Lao Tzu are from his famous book, Tao Te Ching. We are taught that “The tao that can be told of is not the absolute tao,” so please take this to heart as you explore these teachings.


Lao Tzu – “The Old Guy”

On letting go:

“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond the winning.”

“Therefore the Master acts without doing anything and teaches without saying anything. Things arise and she lets them come; things disappear and she lets them go. She has but doesn’t possess, acts but doesn’t expect. When her work is done, she forgets it. That is why it lasts forever.”

“He who clings to his work will create nothing that endures.”

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

On giving up:

“If you want to become whole, let yourself be partial. If you want to become straight, let yourself be crooked. If you want to become full, let yourself be empty. If you want to be reborn, let yourself die. If you want to be given everything, give everything up.”

On knowing yourself:

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”

On impermanence:

“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.”

On going slowly:

“He who rushes ahead doesn’t go far.”

On dimming your own light:

“He who tries to shine dims his own light.”

On defining yourself:

“He who defines himself can’t know who he really is.”

On having power:

“He who has power over others can’t empower himself.”

On getting rid of evil:

“Give evil nothing to oppose and it will disappear by itself.”

On knowing what you want:

“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”

This is the first of a three part series of words of wisdom from Lao Tzu. I hope you enjoy them.

Having studied the text many years ago, it is refreshing to reread some of these lines. The one on impermanence shined the brightest light on me. Which one or ones really struck you? How can we apply them today?

Books by Lao Tze

Lao Tzu : Tao Te Ching : A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way

Ursula K. Le Guin
Lao Tzu

No other English translation of this greatest of the Chinese classics can match Ursula Le Guin’s striking new version. Le Guin, best known for thought-provoking science fiction novels that have helped to transform the genre, has studied the Tao Te Ching for more than forty years. She has co… [Read More…]

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