210 Lao Tzu Quotes To Become Zen

By Maxime Lagacé

Maxime is the founder of WisdomQuotes. He has been collecting quotes since 2004. His goal? To help you develop a calm and peaceful mind. Learn more about him on his about page.

Here are 210 of the best Lao Tzu quotes I could find. Hope you’ll find the inspiration and wisdom you need to slow down and accept what’s happening in your life right now. You’ll see, Lao Tzu is probably the master you need in our fast-paced world. Enjoy!

lao tzu quotes one who conquers others strong himself powerful wisdom kayak lake

One who conquers others is strong. One who conquers himself is all-powerful. Lao Tzu

lao tzu quotes one who approaches life with force surely gets something remains content everything wisdom man sitting

One who approaches life with force surely gets something. One who remains content where he is surely gets everything. Lao Tzu

lao tzu quotes sage puts his own views behind ends ahead stays witness life endures wisdom woman

The Sage puts his own views behind so ends up ahead. He stays a witness to life so he endures. Lao Tzu

lao tzu quotes gives receive works reward completes results wisdom man lake winter

He gives but not to receive. He works but not for reward. He completes but not for results. Lao Tzu

lao tzu quotes one who lives accordance nature does against way things wisdom woman

One who lives in accordance with nature does not go against the way of things. He moves in harmony with the present moment always knowing the truth of just what to do. Lao Tzu


lao tzu quotes sharpen blade too much edge soon lost fill house gold jade protect wisdom

Sharpen a blade too much and its edge will soon be lost. Fill a house with gold and jade and no one can protect it. Puff yourself with honor and pride and no one can save you from a fall. Lao Tzu

lao tzu quotes complete task hand selfless actions this way heaven wisdom woman laptop

Complete the task at hand. Be selfless in your actions. This is the way of Heaven. This is the way to Heaven. Lao Tzu

lao tzu quotes have little gain much confused wisdom nature

Have little and gain much. Have much and be confused. Lao Tzu

lao tzu quotes sage knows how follow comes command does not compete under heaven with him wisdom

On leadership: The Sage knows how to follow so he comes to command. He does not compete so no one under Heaven can compete with him. Lao Tzu

lao tzu quotes inner foundation outer still restless wisdom woman

The inner is foundation of the outer. The still is master of the restless. Lao Tzu


lao tzu quotes things that gain place force will flourish time then fade away wisdom

Things that gain a place by force will flourish for a time, but then fade away. They are not in keeping with Tao. Whatever is not in keeping with Tao will come to an early end. Lao Tzu

lao tzu quotes one who knows tao never turns from life calling when home honors side rest war action wisdom nature

One who knows Tao never turns from life’s calling. When at home he honors the side of rest. When at war he honors the side of action. Lao Tzu

lao tzu quotes highest virtue act without sense self kindness give condition wisdom

The highest virtue is to act without a sense of self. The highest kindness is to give without condition. The highest justice is to see without preference. Lao Tzu

lao tzu quotes man life brings nothing unless lives accordance with whole universe wisdom

The pieces of a chariot are useless unless they work in accordance with the whole. A man’s life brings nothing unless he lives in accordance with the whole universe. Playing one’s part is accordance with the universe is true humility. Lao Tzu

lao tzu quotes love fruit sacrifice wealth generosity wisdom woman

Love is the fruit of sacrifice. Wealth is the fruit of generosity. Lao Tzu


Quick facts
Lao Tzu was also named Laozi and Lao-Tze (translated as  “Old Master”)
He was an ancient Chinese philosopher, writer, and founder of Taoism
Born and Died: Unknown, 6th century – 4th century BC
Amazon book: Tao Te Ching
More Lao Tzu facts (Wikipedia page)

The Best Lao Tzu Quotes

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lao tzu quotes whether gem royal court stone common path wisdom walk

Whether you’re a gem in the royal court or a stone on the common path, if you accept your part with humility the glory of the universe will be yours.

On leadership: The great ruler speaks little and his words are priceless. He works without self-interest and leaves no trace. When all is finished, the people say “it happened by itself”.

One who sees himself as everything is fit to be guardian of the world. One who loves himself as everyone is fit to be teacher of the world.

The best way to live is to be like water. For water benefits all things and goes against none of them. It provides for all people and even cleanses those places.

Live in accordance with the nature of things: Build your house on solid ground. Keep your mind still. When giving, be kind. When speaking, be truthful. When ruling, be just. When working, be one-pointed. When acting, remember – timing is everything.

A way that can be walked is not The Way. A name that can be named is not The Name.

lao tzu quotes does nothing himself passing world does ever passes wisdom nature trees path

He does nothing for himself in this passing world so nothing he does ever passes.

The Sage acts without action and teaches without talking. All things flourish around him and he does not refuse any one of them.

Become totally empty. Quiet the restlessness of the mind. Only then will you witness everything unfolding from emptiness.


If one doesn’t trust himself how can he trust anyone else?

The Sage embraces the One and becomes a model for the world. Without showing himself, he shines forth. Without promoting himself, he is distinguished. Without claiming reward, he gains endless merit. Without seeking glory, his glory endures.

The Sage travels all day yet never leaves his inner treasure. Though the views are captivating and beg attention, he remains calm and uninvolved.

lao tzu quotes essence teachings see original purity embrace simplicity reduce what you have decrease want wisdom city

The essence of my teachings is this: See with original purity, embrace with original simplicity, reduce what you have, decrease what you want.

One who seeks his treasure in the outer world is cut off from his own roots. Without roots, he becomes restless. Being restless, his mind is weak. And with a mind such as this he loses all command below Heaven.

The Sage is always on the side of virtue so everyone around him prospers. He is always on the side of truth so everything around him is fulfilled.

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. (Probably a fake Lao Tzu quote. Didn’t find the source for this one.)

On leadership: Those who rule in accordance with Tao do not use force against the world. For that which is forced is likely to return.

A knower of the Truth does what is called for then stops. He uses his strength but does not force things. In the same way, complete your task, seek no reward, make no claims. Without faltering, fully choose to do what you must do. This is to live without forcing, to overcome without conquering.

lao tzu quotes give without seeking reward help thinking virtuous therein lies great virtue wisdom nature

To give without seeking reward, to help without thinking it is virtuous – therein lies great virtue.

To keep account of your actions, to help with the hope of gaining merit – there in lies no virtue.

Who knows what fate may bring – one day your loss may be your fortune, one day your fortune may be your loss.

Rare indeed are those who are still. Rare indeed are those who are silent. And so I say, rare indeed are those who obtain the bounty of this world.

Part 1. The ancient ones were simple-hearted and blended with the common people. They did not shine forth. They did not rule with cleverness. So the nation was blessed.

Part 2. Now the rulers are filled with clever ideas and the lives of people are filled with hardship so the nation is cursed.

Part 2. Lao Tzu Quote That Are…

The Most Famous Lao Tzu Quotes

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lao tzu quotes one who knows others intelligent himself enlightened wisdom family walk beach

One who knows others is intelligent. One who knows himself is enlightened.

One who speaks does not know. One who knows does not speak.

Govern a nation as you would fry a small fish.

Part 1. A knower of the Truth travels without leaving a trace, speaks without causing harm, gives without keeping an account.

Part 2. The door he shuts, though having no lock, cannot be opened. The knot he ties, though using no cord, cannot be undone.

When there is silence, one finds peace. When there is silence, one finds the anchor of the universe within himself.

The most yielding thing in the world will overcome the most rigid. The most empty thing in the world will overcome the most full. From this comes a lesson – Stillness benefits more than action. Silence benefits more than words.

lao tzu quotes greater curse desire tragedy discontentment fault selfishness wisdom woman walk

No greater curse than desire. No greater tragedy than discontentment. No greater fault than selfishness.

Even the finest warrior is defeated when he goes against natural law. By his own hand he is doomed and all creatures are likely to despise him.

Do not flaunt your excellence. Do not rejoice over victory. With the loss of others, weep with sorrow and grief. After winning a battle, do not celebrate, observe the rites of a funeral.

Contentment alone is enough. Indeed, the bliss of eternity can be found in your contentment.

One who gives freely and without attachment gets a full life in return. One who gives with the secret hope of getting is merely engaged in business. Truly, they neither give nor receive any of the treasure from this world below Heaven.

Act without acting. Give without giving. Taste without tasting.

Take on difficulties while they are still easy. Do great things while they are still small. Step by step the world’s burden is lifted. Piece by piece the world’s treasure is amassed.

The feeble are easily broken. The small are easily scattered.

Begin your task before it becomes a burden. Put things in order before they get out of hand.

lao tzu quotes have tree treasures cherish hold dear first love second moderation third humility wisdom road winter

Part 1. I have three treasures that I cherish and hold dear. The first is love, the second is moderation, the third is humility.

Part 2. With love one is fearless. With moderation one is abundant. With humility one can fill the highest position.

Part 3. Now if one is fearless but has no love, abundant but has no moderation, rises up but has no humility, surely he is doomed.

A tree that fills a man’s embrace grows from a seedling. A tower nine stories high starts with one brick. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

The best warrior leads without haste, fights without anger, overcomes without confrontation. He puts himself below and brings out the highest in his men.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. Lao Tzu

Short Lao Tzu Quotes

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One-liners, short quotes, sayings, thoughts and captions for your bio, social status, self-talk, motto, mantra, signs, posters, wallpapers, backgrounds.
lao tzu quotes plant reap wisdom nature forest family walk

As you plant, so you reap.

As you live, so you die.

The Great Vessel is never filled.

Be wary of both honor and disgrace.

Keep silent and you’ll beat the heat.

He stays with the true and not the false.

He stays with the firm and not the flimsy.

A sacrifice to a higher cause is never lost.

Grabbing and stuffing – there is no end to it.

Truth, once established, can never be uprooted.

He walks without making footprints in this world.

Give without conditions and the people will prosper.

Within, within. This is where the world’s treasure has always been.

The great master follows his own nature and not the trappings of life.

The low is greater than the high. The still is greater than the restless.


Inspirational Lao Tzu Quotes

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lao tzu quotes obstacles cannot overcome limit surpass empire rule wisdom nature road lines

There will be no obstacles you cannot overcome, no limit you cannot surpass, no empire you cannot rule.

Heaven and Earth have no preference. A man may choose one over another but to Heaven and Earth all are the same. The high, the low, the great, the small – all are given light, all get a place to rest.

What could he grab for that he does not already have? What could he do for himself that the universe itself has not already done?

Hold fast to the Power of the One. It will unify the body and merge it with the spirit. It will cleanse the vision and reveal the world as flawless. It will focus the life-force and make one supple as a newborn.

Part 1. The five colors blind the eye. The five tones deafen the ear. The five flavors dull the palate. Racing, hunting, and galloping about only disturb the mind. Wasting energy to obtain rare objects only impedes one’s growth.

Part 2. So the Sage is led by his inner truth and not his outer eye. He holds to what is deep and not what lies on the surface.

Man’s true self is eternal, yet he thinks, “I am this body, I will soon die”. This false sense of self is the cause of all his sorrow. When a person does not identify himself with the body, what troubles could touch him?

Through the course of Nature, muddy water becomes clear. Through the unfolding of life, man reaches perfection. Through sustained activity, that supreme rest is naturally found.

Part 1. Abandon holiness. Discard cleverness and the people will benefit a hundredfold.

Part 2. Abandon the rules of “kindness”. Discard “righteous” actions and the people will return to their own natural affections.

Part 3. Abandon book learning. Discard the rules of behavior and the people will have no worries.

Part 4. Abandon plots and schemes. Discard profit-seeking and the people will not become thieves.

“Surrender brings perfection”. The crooked become straight. The empty become full. The worn become new.

The ancient saying, “Surrender brings perfection,”, is not just empty words. Truly, surrender brings perfection and perfection brings the whole universe.

Speak little. Hold to your own nature. A strong wind does not blow all morning. A cloudburst does not last all day. The wind and rain are from Heaven and Earth and even there do not last long. How much less so the efforts of man?

The path of the Sage is called “The Path of Illumination”. He who gives himself to this path is like a block of wood that gives itself to the chisel – Cut by cut it is honed to perfection.

lao tzu quotes only student who gives himself receive masters gift think otherwise despite your knowledge have blundered wisdom

Only a student who gives himself can receive the master’s gift. If you think otherwise, despite your knowledge, you have blundered.

Giving and receiving are one. This is called “The great wonder”, “The essential mystery”, “The very heart of all that is true”.

Part 1. Tao is eternal, one without a second. Simple indeed yet so subtle that no one can master it.

Part 2. If princes and kings could just hold it, all things would flock to their kingdom.

Part 3. Heaven and Earth would rejoice with the dripping of sweet dew. Everyone would live in harmony, not by official decree, but by their own inner goodness.

Rivers and streams are born of the ocean. All creation is born of Tao. Just as all water flows back to become the ocean. All creation flows back to become Tao.

Be tranquil like the rain of spring. Be pure like the sheen of silk. Then the Great Perfection will be perfect and the Great Fullness will be full.

The sun in all its glory reveals but a passing world. Only the inner light illumines eternity. Only that light can guide us back home.

Have faith. Follow your own shining. Be aware of your own awareness. On the darkest nights you will not stumble. On the brightest days you will not blink. This is called “The Practice of Eternal Light”.

Shut the mouth. Close the gates. Blunt the sharpness. Loosen the knots. Temper the glare. Become one with the dust of the world. This is called “The Secret Embrace”.

Related: 10 Life Lessons From The Taoist Master Lao Tzu (Taoism) (15-minute YouTube video by Philosophies for Life)

Wise Lao Tzu Quotes

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lao tzu quotes seeing your own smallness called insight honoring tenderness strength wisdom nature woman

Seeing your own smallness is called insight. Honoring your own tenderness is called strength.

A mind free of thought, merged within itself, beholds the essence of Tao. A mind filled with thought, identified with its own perceptions, beholds the mere forms of this world.

Everyone recognizes beauty only because of ugliness. Everyone recognize virtue only because of sin.

The Sage rules by stilling minds and opening hearts, by filling bellies and strengthening bones. He shows people how to be simple and live without desires. To be content and not look for other ways. With the people so pure, who could trick them? What clever ideas could lead them astray?

When action is pure and selfless everything settles into its own perfect place.

Part 1. Wu is nothingness, emptiness, non-existence.

Part 2. Clay is molded to form a cup yet only the space within allows the cup to hold water.

Part 3. Thus, when a thing has existence alone it is mere dead-weight. Only when it has wu, does it have life.

The difference between a formal “yes” and a casual “yeah” – how slight! The difference between knowing the Truth and not knowing it – how great!

Part 1. The masters of this ancient path are mysterious and profound. Their inner state baffles all inquiry. Their depths go beyond all knowing. Thus, despite every effort, we can only tell of their outer signs.

Part 2. Deliberate, as if treading over the stones of a winter brook. Watchful, as if meeting danger of all sides. Reverent, as if receiving as honored guest. Selfless, like a melting block of ice. Pure, like an uncarved block of wood. Accepting, like an open valley.

lao tzu quotes his tiptoes man not steady taking long strides cannot keep pace wisdom walking nature

On his tiptoes a man is not steady. Taking long strides he cannot keep pace.

To the self-serving, nothing shines forth. To the self-promoting, nothing is distinguished. To the self-appointing, nothing bears fruit. To the self-righteous, nothing endures.

Hold your male side with your female side. Hold your bright side with your dull side. Hold your high side with your low side. Then you will be able to hold the whole world.

Part 1. Contraction pulls at that which extends too far. Weakness pulls at that which strengthens too much. Ruin pulls at that which rises too high. Loss pulls at life when you fill it with too much stuff.

Part 2. The lesson here is called – “The wisdom of obscurity” – The gentle outlast the strong. The obscure outlast the obvious. Hence, a fish that ventures from deep water is soon snagged by a net. A country that reveals its strength is soon conquered by an enemy.

When Tao is lost one must learn the rules of virtue. When virtue is lost, the rules of kindness. When kindness is lost, the rules of justice. When justice is lost, the rules of conduct.

One’s own reputation – why the fuss? One’s own wealth – why the concern? I say, what you gain is more trouble than what you lose.

To become learned, gain daily. To obtain Tao, reduce daily. Reduce and reduce again until all action is reduced to non-action. Then no one is left. Nothing is done yet nothing is left undone.

In all your glory, never lose sight of the Mother. Without her, your empire will crumble, your power will waste away.

Part 3. Lao Tzu Quotes About…

Lao Tzu About Life

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lao tzu quotes allow life unfold naturally know that vessel perfection wisdom road nature mist

Allow your life to unfold naturally. Know that it too is a vessel of perfection. Just as you breathe in and breathe out. Sometimes you’re ahead and other times behind. Sometimes you’re strong and other times weak. Sometimes you’re with people and other times alone.

Putting a value on status will cause people to compete. Hoarding treasure will turn them into thieves. Showing off possessions will disturb their daily lives.

The universe is like a bellows. It stays empty yet is never exhausted. It gives out yet always brings forth more. Man is not like this. When he blows out air like a bellows he becomes exhausted. Man was not made to blow out air. He was made to sit quietly and find the truth within.

Endlessly creating, endlessly pulsating, the Spirit of the Valley never dies. She is called the Hidden Creator.

Heaven is ancient. Earth is long-lasting. Why is this so? Because they have no claims to life. By having no claims to life they cannot be claimed by death.

Only when the family loses its harmony do we hear of “dutiful sons”. Only when the state is in chaos do we hear of “loyal ministers”.

Endless affliction is bound to the body.

Honor is founded on disgrace and disgrace is rooted in honor. Both should be avoided. Both bind a man to this world.

Eyes look but cannot see it. Ears listen but cannot hear it. Hands grasp but cannot touch it. Beyond the senses lies the great Unity – invisible, inaudible, intangible.

Part 1. See all things flourish and dance in endless variation. And once again merge back into perfect emptiness. Their true repose. Their true nature. Emerging, flourishing, dissolving back again. This is the eternal process of return.

Part 2. To know this process brings enlightenment. To miss this process brings disaster.

Must I fear what others fear? Should I fear desolation when there is abundance? Should I fear darkness when that light is shining everywhere? Nonsense!

lao tzu quotes life death born together difficult easy long short hight love all these exist together wisdom nature rocks mountains

Life and death are born together. Difficult and easy. Long and short. High and low – all these exist together. Sound and silence blend as one. Before and after arrive as one.

Part 1. I am but a guest in this world. While others rush about to get things done, I accept what is offered. Oh, my mind is like that that of a fool, aloof to the clamor of life around me.

Part 2. Everyone seems so bright and alive with the sharp distinctions of day. I appear dark and dull with the blending of differences by night.

Part 3. I am drifting like an ocean, floating like the high winds. Everyone is so rooted in this world yet I have no place to rest my head.

Part 4. Indeed I am different…I have no treasure but the Eternal Mother. I have no food but what comes from her breast.

Peace and tranquillity are what he holds most dear so he does not obtain weapons. But when their use is unavoidable he employs them with fortitude and zeal.

One who is bound to action, proud of victory, and delights in the misfortune of others will never gain a thing from this world below Heaven.

One may look for fulfillment in this world but his longings will never be exhausted. The only thing he ever finds is that he himself is exhausted.

Be content, rest in your own fullness – You will not suffer from loss, you’ll avoid the snare of this world, you’ll have long life and endless blessings.

Stay with the Mother, shut the mouth, close the gates and you are never in trouble. Abandon the Mother, open the mouth, be busy with others and you are beyond all hope of rescue.

The Sage stays with his daily task and accomplishes the greatest thing. Beware of those who promise a quick and easy way for much ease brings many difficulties.

When life begins we are tender and weak. When life ends we are stiff and rigid. All things, including the grass and trees, are soft and pliable in life, dry and brittle in death.

The soft and supple are the companions of life. While the stiff and unyielding are the companions of death.

The people must take death seriously and not waste their lives in distant lands. Let them return to the knotting of cord. Let them enjoy their food and care for their clothing. Let them be content in their homes and joyful in the way they live.

Related: TAOISM | 5 Life Lessons From Lao Tzu (14-minute YouTube  video by Einzelgänger)

Lao Tzu About Love

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lao tzu quotes love your own life people uplifted wisdom woman jump street

Love your own life and the people will be uplifted.

One with true virtue always seeks a way to give. One who lacks true virtue always seeks a way to get.

To the giver comes the fullness of life. To the taker just an empty hand.

Love vanquishes all attackers. It is impregnable in defense. When Heaven wants to protect someone does it send an army? No, it protects him with love.

The Sage is like Heaven and Earth. To him none are especially dear nor is there anyone he disfavors. He gives and gives without condition offering his treasure to everyone.

As you love the people and rule the state, can you be free of self-interest? As the gates of Heaven open and close, can you remain steadfast as a mother bird who sits with her nest? As your wisdom reaches the four corners of the world, can you keep the innocence of a beginner?

Lao Tzu About Tao and Taoism

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lao tzu quotes tao empty yet fills every vessel endless supply hidden shines every corner universe wisdom beach nature

Tao is empty yet it fills every vessel with endless supply. Tao is hidden yet it shines in every corner of the universe.

Those who have Tao want nothing else. Though seemingly empty, they are ever full. Though seemingly old, they are beyond the reach of birth and death.

Tao is both Named and Nameless. As Nameless, it is the origin of all things. As Named, it is the mother of all things.

Tao and this world seem different but in truth they are one and the same. The only difference is in what we call them. How deep and mysterious is this unity. How profound, how great! It is the truth beyond the truth, the hidden within the hidden. It is the path to all wonder, the gate to the essence of everything.

With it, the sharp edges become smooth, the twisted knots loosen, the sun is softened by a cloud, the dust settles into place.

So deep, so pure, so still. It has been this way forever. You may ask, “Whose child is it?”, but I cannot say. This child was here before the Great Ancestor.

Tao is limitless, unborn, eternal. It can only be reached through the Hidden Creator. She is the very face of the Absolute. The gate to the source of all things eternal.

Know That which is beyond all beginnings and you will know everything here and now. Know everything in this moment and you will know the Eternal Tao.

Listen to Her voice. Hear it echo through creation. Without fail, She reveals her presence. Without fail, She brings us to our own perfection.

Know this Primal Power that guides without forcing, that serves without seeking, that brings forth and sustains life yet does not own or possess it.

One who holds this Power brings Tao to this very Earth. He can triumph over a raging fire or the freeze of winter weather. Yet when he comes to rule the world it’s with the gentleness of a feather.

Be still. Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity. Eternity embraces the all-possible. The all-possible leads to a vision of oneness. A vision of oneness brings about universal love. Universal love supports the great truth of Nature. The great truth of Nature is Tao.

The body may perish, deeds may be forgotten, but he who has Tao has all eternity.

lao tzu quotes know tao alone without trace existence highest next comes loving praising fearing despising wisdom nature road

To know Tao alone, without trace of your own existence, is the highest. Next comes loving and praising it. Then fearing it. Then despising it.

When the greatness of Tao is present action arises from one’s own heart. When the greatness of Tao is absent action comes from the rules of “kindness” and “justice”. If you need rules to be kind and just, if you act virtuous, this is a sure sign that virtue is absent. Thus we see the great hypocrisy.

Perfect action, true virtue, supreme power, this is how Tao is revealed, through those who follow it completely.

Though formless and intangible, it gives rise to form. Though vague and elusive, it gives rise to shapes. Though dark and obscure, it is the spirit, the essence, the life-breath of all things. “But is it real?” you ask – I say its evidence is all of creation!

One who lives in accordance with the Truth becomes the embodiment of Tao. His actions become those of Heaven. It is through such a one that Heaven rejoices, that Earth rejoices, that all of life rejoices.

From the viewpoint of Tao, this self-indulgence is like rotting food and painful growths on the body – things that all creatures despise. So why hold onto them? When walking the path of Tao, this is the very stuff that must be uprooted, thrown out, and left behind.

Something formless, complete in itself, there before Heaven and Earth. Tranquil, vast, standing alone, unchanging. It provides for all things yet cannot be exhausted. It is the mother of the universe. I do not know its name so call it “Tao”. Forced to name it further, I call it “The greatness of all things”, “The end of all endings”. I call it “That which is beyond the beyond”, “That to which all things return”.

lao tzu quotes create without owning give expecting fill claiming profound action tao wisdom nature road

To create without owning. To give without expecting. To fill without claiming. This is the profound action of Tao.

From Tao comes all greatness – It makes Heaven great. It makes Earth great. It makes man great.

Man depends on the laws of Earth. Earth depends on the laws of Heaven. Heaven depends on the laws of Tao. But Tao depends on itself alone. Supremely free, self-so, it rests in its own nature.

Part 1. Those who look down upon this world will surely take hold and try to change things. But this is a plan I’ve always seen fail. The world is Tao’s own vessel. It is perfection manifest. It cannot be changed. It cannot be improved.

Part 2. For those who go on tampering, it’s ruined. For those who try to grasp, it’s gone.

Tao is the home to which all things return yet it wants nothing in return. So we call it “The Greatest”. The Sage is the same way – He does not claim greatness over anything, he’s not even aware of his own greatness. Tell me, what could be greater than this?

When a person embodies Tao his heart becomes true. When a family embodies Tao it thrives. When a village embodies Tao it is protected. When a country embodies Tao it prospers. When the world embodies Tao it reveals its perfection.

When the emperor is crowded or the three ministers installed, they receive a gift of jade and horses. But how can this compare to sitting still and gaining the treasure of Tao.

Though the Tao of Heaven has no favorites, it always sides with one who has a pure heart.

One who gives himself to his position surely lives long. One who gives himself to Tao surely lives forever.

RelatedEastern Philosophy – Lao Tzu (5-minute YouTube  video by The School of Life)

Quotes About “The Sage”

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lao tzu quotes sage fixed heart those who look him wisdom hike

The Sage has no fixed heart of his own. Those who look at him see their own hearts.

Part 1. Without going outside one can know the whole world. Without looking out the window one can see the ways of Heaven. The farther one goes the less one knows.

Part 2. Thus the Sage does not go, yet he knows. He does not look, yet he sees. He does not do, yet all is done.

Those who are good he treats with goodness. Those who are bad he also treats with goodness because the nature of his being is good.

Those who are truthful he treats with truth. Those who are not truthful he also treats with truth because the nature of his being is truthful.

The Sage lives in harmony with all below Heaven. He sees everything as his own self. He loves everyone as his own child. All people are drawn to him. Every eye and ear is turned toward him.

The Sage wants to uplift the people. The people want to follow the Sage. Only by being low does this come to be.

Going about, he does not fear the rhinoceros or tiger. Entering the battlefield, he does not fear sharp weapons for in him the rhino can find no place to pitch its horn. The tiger no place to thrust his blade. Why is this so? Because he dwells in that place where death cannot enter.

One who knows this secret is not moved by attachment or aversion, swayed by profit or loss, nor touched by honor or disgrace. He is far beyond the cares of men yet comes to hold the dearest place in their hearts.

The Sage is here upon the Earth to gently guide us back. He cuts but does not harm. He straightens but does not disrupt. He illuminates but does not dazzle.

The Sage bows to the people. The people bow to the Sage. And when they lift up their heads, only greatness remains.

lao tzu quotes sage guides men back their treasure wisdom nature hike

The Sage guides men back to their own treasure and helps all things come to know the truth they have forgotten. All this he does without a stir.

The Sage sees the world as an expansion of his own self. So what need has he to accumulate things? By giving to others he gains more and more. By serving others he receives everything.

The Sage knows himself, but not as himself, he loves himself, but not as himself, he honor himself, but not as himself. Thus, he discards the view of his own self and chooses the view of the universe.

Part 4. Miscellaneous Lao Tzu Thoughts

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lao tzu quotes what honor can there without humility heights reached being low wisdom nature woman

What honor can there be without humility? What heights can be reached without being low?

When the best seeker hears of Tao he strives with great effort to know it. When an average seeker hears of Tao he thinks of it now and again. When the poorest seeker hears of Tao he laughs out loud.

There is an old saying. The clear way seems clouded. The straight way seems crooked. The sure way seems unsteady.

If I had the least bit of wisdom I could follow the path of Tao quite well. My only fear would be trying to go my own way. The Great Path is simple and direct yet people love to take the side-routes.

A still mind can easily hold the truth. The difficulties yet to come can easily be avoided.

To rule the state, have a known plan. To win a battle, have an unknown plan. To gain the universe, have no plan at all.

On leadership: When the ruler knows his own heart, the people are simple and pure. When he meddles with their lives, they become restless and disturbed.

Today the righteous turn to trickery. Tomorrow the good turn to darkness. Oh what delusion abounds and every day it grows worst!

If a person seems wicked, do not cast him away – Awaken him with your words. Elevate him with your deeds. Requite his injury with your kindness. Do not cast him away. Cast away his wickedness.

Part 1. Act and it’s ruined. Grab and it’s gone. People on the verge of success often lose patience and fail in their undertakings.

lao tzu quotes steady from beginning end wont bring failure wisdom nature path

Part 2. Be steady from the beginning to the end and you won’t bring on failure.

A tree that cannot bend will crack in the wind. Thus by Nature’s own decree, the hard and strong are defeated while the soft and gentle are triumphant.

Part 1. Why do the hundred rivers turn and rush toward the sea? Because it naturally stays below them.

Part 2. He who wishes to rule over the people must speak as if below them. He who wishes to lead the people must walk as if behind them. So the Sage rules over the people but he does not weigh them down. He leads the people but he does not block their way.

Part 3. The Sage stays low so the world never tires of exalting him. He remains a servant so the world never tires of making him its king.

Words born in the mind are not true. True words are not born of the mind.

Those who have virtue do not look for fault. Those who look for faults have no virtue.


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Knowing what cannot be known – what a lofty aim! Not knowing what needs to be known – what a terrible result!

Follow your path to the end. Accept difficulty as an opportunity. This is the sure way to end up with no difficulties at all.

Don’t limit the view of yourself. Don’t despise the conditions of your birth. Don’t resist the natural course of your life. In this way you will never weary of this world.

lao tzu quotes end treasure life missed those who hold gained let go wisdom silhouette

In the end, the treasure of life is missed by those who hold on and gained by those who let go. Lao Tzu

Key Takeaways From Lao Tzu’s Quotes

  • The peace you’re seeking is not outside, it’s inside.
  • Life is not about achieving, it’s about understanding.
  • Once you understand, you become calm and detached.
  • Lao Tzu was a wise man. He believed in working for its own sake, not for rewards.
  • Want to live like Lao Tzu? Try living with more temperance, patience, and balance.

Lao Tzu Quotes Video

Further Readings

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Author Bio

maxime lagace

Maxime Lagacé started collecting quotes in 2004 after he lost his girlfriend in a car accident.

In search of meaning, he dived in the self-improvement world, psychology and trail running.

Books, blogs, quotes and nature became his guide.

He started journaling, reflecting, writing his thoughts, feelings and quotes.

His goal was to understand his pain, his depression, his fears, his lack of motivation and inspiration.

He finished his software engineering degree in 2007 at the École de Technologie Supérieure de Montréal.

A few years later, he started his first website to share his love of quotes.

Maxime is a father of two, husband, and INFJ.

Other notable interests of Maxime are health (mental and physical), meditation, bananas, SEO, human potential, and education.

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Last update

February 14, 2022

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