Philosophers

68 of the Best Lao Tzu Quotes (ANCIENT WISDOM)

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Born somewhere between the 4th and 6th century BC in Chujen village, the state of Chu, Lao Tzu (Chinese: 老子, Old Master) was an ancient Chinese Philosopher and writer.

He is traditionally regarded as the author of Tao Te Ching and is the reputed founder of Taoism.

Said to be the record keeper in the Chinese Zhou Dynasty in the 6th century B.C. – an even older contemporary of Confucius – which led to many debates as to whether Lao Tzu is a mythical figure… much like Homer in Western culture.

Legend says that he was conceived when his mother saw a falling star, or was born an old man with very long earlobes – or lived 990 years. source

Furthermore, the prolific title Lao Tzu has been westernized countless times which ultimately led to confusion. (Also known as, Laozi/Lao zi, Lao Tsu and several others).

However, we are here for ancient wisdom and not for speculation.

Further reading:

Below are the best and most famous Lao Tzu quotes so you can be inspired through Ancient Chinese wisdom.

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Top 14 Most Famous Lao Tzu Quotes

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.
Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.
When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.
If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.
If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.
Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.
Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

Lao Tzu
The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth.
The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth.
A man with outward courage dares to die: a man with inner courage dares to live.
A man with outward courage dares to die: a man with inner courage dares to live.
I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.
I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.
Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.
Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself.
The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself.
Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.
Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.
New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.
New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.

33 Inspirational Lao Tzu Quotes on Knowing Yourself

Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”

Lao Tzu
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.
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.
Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.
Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
Time is a created thing. To say 'I don't have time,' is like saying, 'I don't want to.
Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.
The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness.
The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness.

Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being. Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are. Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world.”

Lao Tzu
A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.
A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.
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.
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.
Be content with what you have, rejoice in the way things are. When you realise there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.
Be content with what you have, rejoice in the way things are. When you realise there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.
Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.
Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.
Who acts in stillness finds stillness in his life.
Who acts in stillness finds stillness in his life.
Music in the soul can be heard by the universe.
Music in the soul can be heard by the universe.
He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.
He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.
Love is a decision. Not an emotion.
Love is a decision. Not an emotion.
Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend. Non-being is the greatest joy.
Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend. Non-being is the greatest joy.
To a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.
To a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.
When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.’
When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.’
The best fighter is never angry.
The best fighter is never angry.

In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.”

Lao Tzu
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.
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.
He who is contented is rich.
He who is contented is rich.
Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity, reduce selfishness, have few desires.
Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity, reduce selfishness, have few desires.
Great acts are made up of small deeds.
Great acts are made up of small deeds.

People in their handlings of affairs often fail when they are about to succeed. If one remains as careful at the end as he was at the beginning, there will be no failure.”

Lao Tzu
At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.
At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.
Be still like a mountain, and flow like a great river.
Be still like a mountain, and flow like a great river.
Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.
Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.
Make your heart like a lake with a calm still surface and great depths of kindness.
Make your heart like a lake with a calm still surface and great depths of kindness.

Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.”

Lao Tzu
The heart that gives, gathers.
The heart that gives, gathers.
For the wise man looks into space and he knows there is no limited dimensions.
For the wise man looks into space and he knows there is no limited dimensions.
Silence is a source of Great Strength.
Silence is a source of Great Strength.

21 Wise Lao Tzu Quotes on Leadership and Watching Your Thoughts

Watch your thoughts, they become your words. Watch your words, they become your actions. Watch your actions, they become your habits. Watch your habits, they become your character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”

Lao Tzu
Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment.
Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Use the light that is within you to revert to your natural clearness of sight.
Use the light that is within you to revert to your natural clearness of sight.
Stop thinking, and end your problems.
Stop thinking, and end your problems.
If you would take, you must first give, this is the beginning of intelligence.
If you would take, you must first give, this is the beginning of intelligence.
Surrender your self-interest. Love others as much as you love yourself. Then you can be entrusted with all things under heaven.
Surrender your self-interest. Love others as much as you love yourself. Then you can be entrusted with all things under heaven.
To attain knowledge, add things everyday. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.
To attain knowledge, add things everyday. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.
Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.
Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.

Accomplish but do not boast, accomplish without show, accomplish without arrogance, accomplish without grabbing, accomplish without forcing.”

Lao Tzu
The wise man is one who, knows, what he does not know.
The wise man is one who, knows, what he does not know.
If you try to change it, you will ruin it. Try to hold it, and you will lose it.
If you try to change it, you will ruin it. Try to hold it, and you will lose it.
Water is the softest thing, yet it can penetrate mountains and earth. This shows clearly the principle of softness overcoming hardness.
Water is the softest thing, yet it can penetrate mountains and earth. This shows clearly the principle of softness overcoming hardness.
Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it.
Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it.

If a person seems wicked, do not cast him away. Awaken him with your words, elevate him with your deeds, repay his injury with your kindness. Do not cast him away; cast away his wickedness.”

Lao Tzu
What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.
What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.
Stop leaving and you will arrive. Stop searching and you will see. Stop running away and you will be found.
Stop leaving and you will arrive. Stop searching and you will see. Stop running away and you will be found.
Your own positive future begins in this moment. All you have is right now. Every goal is possible from here.
Your own positive future begins in this moment. All you have is right now. Every goal is possible from here.
The reason why the universe is eternal is that it does not live for itself; it gives life to others as it transforms.
The reason why the universe is eternal is that it does not live for itself; it gives life to others as it transforms.
There is no greater danger than underestimating your opponent.
There is no greater danger than underestimating your opponent.
The further one goes, the less one knows.
The further one goes, the less one knows.

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