The Tao Te Ching written by Taoist Master Lao Tzu was written around the 6th century BC. It is a fundamental text for both philosophers and Taoists alike, strongly influencing other schools such as Legalism, Confucianism, and Chinese Buddhism. Many Chinese artists, including poets, painters, calligraphers, and even gardeners, have used the Tao Te Ching as a source of inspiration. Its influence has also spread widely outside East Asia, and it is among the most translated works in world literature. Below are some of the most powerful extracts from the work.
The Great Tao flows everywhere,
to the left and to the right,
all things depend on it to exist,
and it does not abandon them.
to its accomplishments it lays no claims.
It loves and nourished all things,
but does not lord it over them.
To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.
Always without desire we must be found,
If its deep mystery we would sound;
But if desire always within us be,
Its outer fringe is all that we shall see.
Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.
To attain knowledge, add things everyday.
To attain wisdom, remove things every day.
When I let go of who I am, I become what I might be.
The Tao is (like) the emptiness of a vessel; and in our
employment of it we must be on our guard against all fulness. How
deep and unfathomable it is, as if it were the Honoured Ancestor of
Great acts are made up of small deeds.
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.
The soft overcomes the hard; and the weak the strong.
The mark of a moderate man
is freedom from his own ideas.
Tolerant like the sky,
all-pervading like sunlight,
firm like a mountain,
supple like a tree in the wind,
he has no destination in view
and makes use of anything life happens to bring his way.
Gravity is the root of lightness; stillness, the ruler of
He who would administer the kingdom, honouring it as he
honours his own person, may be employed to govern it, and he who would
administer it with the love which he bears to his own person may be
entrusted with it.
A man with outward courage dares to die.
A man with inward courage dares to live.
Knowing others is intelligence;
knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
mastering yourself is true power.
From wonder into wonder existence opens.
The valley spirit dies not, aye the same;
The female mystery thus do we name.
Its gate, from which at first they issued forth,
Is called the root from which grew heaven and earth.
Long and unbroken does its power remain,
Used gently, and without the touch of pain.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Love is of all passions the strongest, for it attacks simultaneously the head, the heart and the senses.
A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.