Art of Living – Taoism, Tao Te Ching or Lao Tzu… what is the philosophy ?

Art of Living – Taoism, Tao Te Ching or Lao Tzu… what is the philosophy ?

What does Tao te ching mean ?

Tao te ching, writte by Lao Tzu, is a Chinese classic written in 600 BC. The Tao Te Ching, is a fundamental text for both philosophical and religious Taoism. The thesis is quite cryptic , like many other manuscripts, and hence multiple interpretations are possible. However the essence of the whole work is about, Spontaniety, Non purposive action, Simplicity and Harmony. Some of the quotes and important learnings from the script are shared below for simplified learning .

In literal translation Tao Te ching means – The Book of the way and its virtue”.

What is Tao?

There was something formless and perfect before the universe was born . It is serene, Empty, infinite, Solitary, unchanging. It is the mother of universe , and it is Tao.

The Gist -Tao Te Ching Summary

The purpose of Tao te ching can be summarized as following:

Simplicity , patience , compassion“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.”Goodnet

HARMONY“Tao engenders One; One engenders Two; Two engenders Three; Three engenders all things. All things carry the yin (femininity) while embrace the yang (masculinity). Neutralising energy brings them into harmony.”Goodnet

LETTING GO“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.”Goodnet

Going with the flow-“When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.”

Mastery of the world is achieved by letting things take their own course.


Tao Te Ching Quotes

1. Free from desire, you realise the mystery caught in desire and you see only the manifestation. Yet, mystery and Desire arise from the same, source, that is darkness. Darkness is the gateway to all understanding.

2.When people see something as beautiful , other things become ugly . When something is difficult, something else is easy. High and Low depend on each other. Approach should be – 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.

3. Master leads by emptying peoples minds and filling their cores. Practice not doing, and everything will fall into place. Practice nothingness.

4. Tao is eternal, because it was never Born . Tao is infinite, because it has no desire for itself, thus it is present in all beings. Because she has let go of her self, she is perfectly fulfilled.

5. When you are content to be yourself, and don’t compare and compete, everybody will respect you.

6.Fill your bowl to the brim, and it will spill. Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt.Chase after money and your heart will never unclench. Do your work and step back . This is the only path to serenity.

7.Can you step back from your mind and understand all things?

8. We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whtever we want. We work with being but it is the non being that we use.

9.See the world as yourself , Have faith in the way things are. Love the world as yourself, then you can care for all things.


10.Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and water is clear? Can you remain unmoving , until the action arises by itself? Can you be patient enough for it to unfold?

11.Express yourself completely, then be quiet. Be like the forces of nature. When it blows ,their is wind. When it rains, their is only rain. When the clouds pass, sun shines through. If you are open to Tao, you are at one with tao.

12.He who stands on tiptoes, doesn’t stand firm . He who rushes ahead, doesn’t go far. He who tries to outshine others, dims his own light. If you want to accord with Tao, just do your job and let go.

13.There is a time for being ahead,a time for being behind. A time for being in motion, a time for being at rest. A time for being rigorous , a time for being exhausted. A time for being safe, and a time for being in danger. Let things go their own way while you sit a the centre.

14.Knowing others is intelligence, knowing oneself is wisdom. Mastering others is strength and mastering yourself is true power.

15.When you realise that nothing is lacking, the whole world will belong to you. Feel fulfilled with yourself.

16.Tao gives birth to all beings, nourishes them , maintains them cares for them , protects them, and then takes them back to itself.Thus creating without possessing , acting without expecting, guiding without interfering.

17.Be aware when things are out of balance, Stay centered with Tao. Seeking into darkness is clarity Knowing how to yield is strength . Use your own light and return to the source of light.

18.Those who know don’t talk, and those who talk don’t know. Close your mouth, block off your senses,blunt your sharpness,untie your knots, soften your glare, settle your dust.

19. The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail. (Also referred to in the famous book Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb)

20.The master has no possessions. The more he does for others, the happier he is. The more he gives to others, the wealthier he is. Be a Master.

Hope you enjoyed reading this . I have read this book almost three times, before I could understand the meaning. I have tried to put some of the core ideas explained in the manuscript for people who have paucity of time, but are interested in the topic. Lots of love and blessings..!

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Tao te ching, art of living