ISBN: 1479262897

My re-entry into Eastern philosophy has put Lao Tzu’s seminal work in my hand. It’s an introduction to Tao, a metaphysical Chinese philosophy. Here are my favorite quotes:

1. “To desire fame, wealth, and honor is to bring about a downfall of your own doing. When your work is done, then retire. The Sage seeks neither fame nor fortune. Withdrawing once the work is done in a natural manner. This is the way of the Tao.”

2. “Excessive desires will madden the mind. Excessive possessions preoccupy the mind with fear. The more you desire, the more you’ll be discontented from what you have. The Sage fills his belly, not his eyes. The Sage satisfies his inner desires with what cannot be seen, not with the external temptations of the world.”

3. “Meet failure or success with grace, honor and kindness.  Accept misfortune or fortune with grace, honor and kindness…  Accept all that comes your way”

4. “Clarity comes to muddy waters by being stilled. In being tranquil in the stillness brings about peace from the chaos.”

5. “Allow the ten thousand things to come and go while just observing. See how one ending is just another beginning.”

6. “More important is living in a simple manner within one’s own nature and keeping the well-being of others at heart. Living an unpretentious life with compassion and keeping your desires tempered is to live in your own true nature.”

7. “To have little leaves room for more.”

8. “He doesn’t compete therefore no one can compete with him.”

9. “High winds do not last the morning. Thunderstorms do not last all day.”

10. “The way of nature is the way of the Tao. Therefore you cannot improve upon nature. Those who try to change it in the end destroy it. Those who try to grasp it cannot hold it.”

11. “The wise only uses weapons when it cannot be avoided. The wise practice restraint and caution in the use of them. Never does the wise see glory in their use.”

12. “By not showing greatness is truly great.”


13. “The foolish man who is always trying to do, leaves much undone.”

14. “…being humble is the foundation of greatness.”

15. “For in gaining, one loses. For in losing, one gains.”

16. “The man attached to fame and wealth will suffer. By gaining the man will still lose.”

17. “The greatest sin for man is desire. The greatest misfortune for man is discontentment. The greatest violation for man is coveting that of others. Therefore the man being in a state of contentment is always contented.”

18. “Exhaustion is caused by doing too much. Whoever behaves in this manner will have their years reduced for it is not natural.”

19. “In nature the difficult things are done in an easy manner, great things are made up by the acts of small things. This is the nature of nature, achieving greatness with no effort. This is the law of natural progression. The Sage is like nature in achieving greatness by practicing the law of natural progression in doing small acts to obtain greatness.”

20. “From not putting oneself ahead of others come leadership.”

21. “When you realize that death is nothing more than an illusion then your fear of death disappears. Men who live in fear of death are afraid of breaking the laws that result in death.”

22. “Keeping balance and harmony by taking from an overabundance and giving to where there is a deficiency.”

23. “Therefore the Sage gives without needing recognition, serves without bringing attention to his actions, he achieves without the need of reward. Once his work is accomplished he moves on. He shows no desire except to help others for this is his wisdom.”

24. “The wise do not argue to prove a point. The men that argue their point are not wise.”

This brief book leverages observations of nature for guiding humans on how to live. Many analogies use streams, trees, or animals. If you want more explanation into the concepts of Tao, I highly recommend The Empty Boat by Osho.

Read More: “Tao Te Ching” on Amazon


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