85 Inspirational Lao Tzu Quotes

Lao Tzu is known primarily as the founder of Taoism and the author of “Tao Te Ching,” or “The Way and its Power.” This text is sometimes referred to as “The Law of Virtue and its Way.” Heavily inspired by nature and somewhat mystical, Taoism focuses on developing individual character.

Lao Tzu lived in a time of extraordinary conflict, and hoped to convert leaders in order to bring peace to a warring China. He is said to have left China in frustration when he was 80. A border guard who knew of his teachings asked him to record these teachings before he left China. In response, Lao Tzu wrote the 5,000 characters we now know as “Tao Te Ching.”


Lao Tzu Quotes

The following 85 quotes exemplify his teachings.

  1. “The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth.”
  2. “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”
  3. “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”
  4. “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
  5. “To a mind that is still the whole universe surrenders.”
  6. “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
  7. “The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself.”
  8. “Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment.”
  9. “Stop thinking, and end your problems.”
  10. “Music in the soul can be heard by the universe.”
  11. “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
  12. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
  13. “The way of heaven is to help and not harm.”
  14. “The best fighter is never angry.”
  15. “As soon as you have made a thought, laugh at it.”
  16. “He who talks more is sooner exhausted.”
  17. “A scholar who cherishes the love of comfort is not fit to be deemed a scholar.”
  18. “At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”
  19. “When the student is ready the teacher will appear. When the student is truly ready…The teacher will disappear.”
  20. “When there is no desire, all things are at peace.”
  21. “Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.”
  22. “Act without expectation.”
  23. “To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.”
  24. “Manifest plainness, Embrace simplicity, Reduce selfishness, Have few desires.”
  25. “The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness.”
  26. “Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it.”
  27. “I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.”
  28. “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.”
  29. “By letting go it all gets done.”
  30. “Treat those who are good with goodness, and also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained. Be honest to those who are honest, and be also honest to those who are not honest. Thus honesty is attained.”
  31. “Accomplish but do not boast, accomplish without show, accomplish without arrogance, accomplish without grabbing, accomplish without forcing.”
  32. “To lead people, walk beside them …As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence.The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate …When the best leader’s work is done the people say, We did it ourselves!”
  33. “Loss is not as bad as wanting more.”
  34. “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.”
  35. “Respond to anger with virtue. Deal with difficulties while they are still easy. Handle the great while it is still small.”
  36. “She does not show herself, and therefore is apparent. She does not affirm herself, and therefore is acknowledged. She does not boast and therefore has merit. She does not strive and therefore is successful. It is exactly because she does not contend, that nobody can contend with her.”
  37. “Go to the people. Live with them, learn from them, love them.”
  38. “The way to do is to be.”
  39. “Trying to understand is like straining through muddy water. Have the patience to wait! Be still and allow the mud to settle.”
  40. “Hope and fear are both phantoms that arise from thinking of the self. When we don’t see the self as self, what do we have to fear?”
  41. “Countless words count less than the silent balance between yin and yang.”
  42. “A violent wind does not last for a whole morning; a sudden rain does not last for the whole day.”
  43. “Love is a decision – not an emotion!”
  44. “There is no disaster greater than not being content; there is no misfortune greater than being covetous.”
  45. “Great acts are made up of small deeds.”
  46. “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.”
  47. “The reason why the universe is eternal is that it does not live for itself; it gives life to others as it transforms.”
  48. “If there is to be peace in the world, There must be peace in the nations.If there is to be peace in the nations, There must be peace in the cities.If there is to be peace in the cities, There must be peace between neighbors.If there is to be peace between neighbors, There must be peace in the home.If there is to be peace in the home, There must be peace in the heart.”
  49. “Ordinary men hate solitude. But the Master makes use of it, embracing his aloneness, realizing he is one with the whole universe.”
  50. “When pure sincerity forms within, it is outwardly realized in other people’s hearts.”
  51. “Water is the softest thing, yet it can penetrate mountains and earth. This shows clearly the principle of softness overcoming hardness.”
  52. “In the end, The treasure of life is missed by those who hold on and gained by those who let go.”
  53. “Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.”
  54. “There is no illusion greater than fear.”
  55. “Perfection is the willingness to be imperfect.”
  56. “To see things in the seed, that is genius.”
  57. “Be still. Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity”
  58. “He who knows, does not speak. He who speaks, does not know.”
  59. “To bear and not to own; to act and not lay claim; to do the work and let it go: for just letting it go is what makes it stay.”
  60. “If you wish to be out front, then act as if you were behind.”
  61. “Love is of all the passions the strongest, for it attacks simultaneously the head, the heart, and the senses.”
  62. “To realize that you do not understand is a virtue; not to realize that you do not understand is a defect.”
  63. “Failure is an opportunity. If you blame someone else, there is no end to the blame.Therefore the Master fulfills her own obligations and corrects her own mistakes.She does what she needs to do and demands nothing of others.”
  64. “From wonder into wonder existence opens.”
  65. “There is a time to live and a time to die but never to reject the moment.”
  66. “Just remain in the center, watching. And then forget that you are there.”
  67. “One who is too insistent on his own views finds few to agree with him.”
  68. “To hold, you must first open your hand. Let go.”
  69. “Those who flow as life flows know they need no other force.”
  70. “When men lost their understanding of the Tao, intelligence came along, bringing hypocrisy with it.”
  71. “From caring comes courage.”
  72. “Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”
  73. “I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.”
  74. “Do not conquer the world with force, for force only causes resistance. Thorns spring up when an army passes. Years of misery follow a great victory. Do only what needs to be done without using violence.”
  75. “If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.”
  76. “Everything under heaven is a sacred vessel and cannot be controlled. Trying to control leads to ruin. Trying to grasp, we lose. Allow your life to unfold naturally. Know that it too is a vessel of perfection. Just as you breathe in and breathe out, there is a time for being ahead and a time for being behind; a time for being in motion and a time for being at rest; a time for being vigorous and a time for being exhausted; a time for being safe and a time for being in danger.”
  77. “When you accept yourself, the whole world accepts you.”
  78. “Must you value what others value, avoid what others avoid? How ridiculous!”
  79. “An ocean of ink in a single drop, Trembling at the tip of my brush.Poised above stark white paper, A universe waits for existence.”
  80. “Trying to control the future is like trying to take the master carpenter’s place. When you handle the master carpenter’s tools, chances are that you’ll cut your hand.”
  81. “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.”
  82. “The flexible are preserved unbroken. The bent become straight. The empty are filled. The exhausted become renewed. The poor are enriched. The rich are confounded. Therefore the sage embraces the one. Because he doesn’t display himself, people can see his light. Because he has nothing to prove, people can trust his words. Because he doesn’t know who he is, people recognize themselves in him. Because he has no goal in mind, everything he does succeeds. The old saying that the flexible are preserved unbroken is surely right! If you have truly attained wholeness, everything will flock to you.”
  83. “Our enemies are not demons, but human beings like ourselves”
  84. “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.”
  85. “A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live.”

We hope these Lao Tzu Quotes bring you some Serenity Today!

These quotes offer us a perspective seen from a troubling time, when peace could seemingly not be achieved. They teach us to be still, to wait, and to live with decency even when times are extremely hard. Use these 85 inspirational Lao Tzu quotes to help you remember the dignity of compassion and the benefit of letting go.

 

 


 

Image Credit: WikiMedia Commons – Unknown author / Public domain

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