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Tao Te Ching 道德经 – Top 100 Books in China

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An important source of Taoist Philosophy


Chinese Name:道德经

English Name: Tao Te Ching, Dao De Jing

Other Names: Dao De Zhen Jing道德真经, Lao Zi老子, Five thousand words五千言(Wu Qian Yan), Lao Zi Wu Qian Wen老子五千文

Author: Lao Zi老子

Originally Published: Spring and Autumn Period

Genre: Philosophy

Brief Introduction of Tao Te Ching

Tao Te Ching, the first complete philosophical work in Chinese history, is an important source of Taoist philosophy.

Tao Te Ching takes “Tao Te道德” in a philosophical sense as the outline, and discusses the ways of self-cultivation, governing the country, using troops, and cultivating health. It is the so-called “inner sage and outer king内圣外王” theory, which is profound and inclusive. and is known as the King of all Chings万经之王.

Tao Te Ching mainly discusses “Tao道” and “Te德”: “Tao” is not only the way of the universe and nature, but also the method of individual practice; “Te” is not usually regarded as morality or virtue, but the special world outlook, methodology and way of dealing with the world that monks should have.


“Taoist nature道法自然” is the cream of Lao Zi’s thought in Tao Te Ching. As the most abstract concept category in Tao Te Ching, “Tao” is the power source for the generation of all things in heaven and earth. “Te” is the development and expression of “Tao” in the field of ethics. “Tao” and “law” have something in common at the level of rules and common sense, but they are different from western natural law. “Fa” should follow the way of nature and play its role in the reverse transformation of syndrome differentiation.


Historical background of Tao Te Ching

According to literature records, Lao Zi is quiet, eager to learn and knowledgeable. In the process of his teacher Shang Rong’s teaching knowledge, Lao Zi always inquires into the root and is very eager for knowledge. In order to solve his doubts, he often looked up at the sun, moon and stars and thought about what the sky in the sky was, so that he often couldn’t sleep. Later, Mr. Shang Rong recommended him to further study in Zhou. In the state of Zhou, Lao Zi learned everything and absorbed a lot of knowledge. Through this experience, Lao Zi accumulated rich knowledge and made him famous far and near.


In the spring and Autumn period, in order to compete for supremacy, the princes fought constantly. As an official of the state of Zhou, Lao Zi put forward a series of propositions to govern the country and secure the people.

Therefore, Lao Zi traced its origin by his own life experience and learning from the success or failure of the rise and fall of the Dynasty and the safety and well-being of the people. He wrote the upper and lower chapters, a total of 5000 words, namely the Tao Te Ching.


Author of Tao Te Ching

Lao Zi, also known as Li Er李耳, was born in the Spring and Autumn Period. His birth and death years are unknown. He is a thinker, philosopher, writer, founder and main representative of Taoism in ancient China. He is called “Lao Zhuang” together with Zhuang Zi. He has been listed as one of the world’s cultural celebrities and one of the world’s 100 historical celebrities.

Lao Zi is famous for his erudition,Confucius asked him for knowledge. Laozi’s thought has a profound impact on the development of Chinese philosophy, and its ideological core is simple dialectics.


Lao Zi老子
Lao Zi老子

In terms of politics, Lao Zi advocated governing by inaction and teaching without words.

In terms of power, Lao Zi pays attention to the principle that things will turn when they reach the extreme.

In terms of self-cultivation, Lao Zi pays attention to the cultivation of being open-minded and solid and not competing with others. He is the ancestor of the dual cultivation of life and life of Taoism.

Lao Zi’s thoughts and achievements are mainly reflected in the book Tao Te Ching.

Excerpts of Tao Te Ching


“Tao” can be expressed in words, but it is not an ordinary “Tao”, and “name” can be named by words, but it is not an ordinary “name”.


The best people are like water. Water is good at moistening all things without competing with all things.


Man follows the rules of earth, earth follows the rules of heaven, heaven follows the rules of “Tao”, and Tao is purely natural.

Evaluation of Tao Te Ching

If you don’t read Tao Te Ching, you won’t know Chinese culture and the true meaning of life.

Lu Xun鲁迅

Lao Zi’s sayings, like crushed gemstones, can shine without decoration.

Lin Yutang林语堂

Tao Te Ching is a military book.

Mao Zedong毛泽东

Tao Te Ching is like an inexhaustible well, full of treasure.

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche


Video: Tao Te Ching Explained

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