Lao Tzu, a sixth century philosopher, is known as the father of Taoism and the author of the “Tao-Te Ching. Tao means ‘the way of all life’, Te means ‘the fit use of life by men’, and Ching mean ‘text’. This ancient Chinese text is the world’s most translated classic after the Bible.
Lao Tzu was not his real name, but an honorific title given to the sage, meaning “Old Master.” I have found wisdom in the Tao and have learned a perspective that is different from ideas held here in the West. Lao Tzu called attention to the ideas of simplicity and compassion. He also emphasized the connection between all living things. Lao Tzu was probably the original proponent of “going with the flow”. When I first started my graduate program in Chinese Medicine, I was resistant to many of the Eastern concepts and found them hard to grasp. But, as I studied and realized the value in these different ideas, my perspective changed. So getting a Master’s degree not only gave me a career I love , it also gave me a new point of view and a more grateful attitude. Many of Lao Tzu’s quotes speak to basic truths and have become quite famous. Perhaps you will also find inspiration from the “Old Master.”
“An ant on the move does more than a dozing ox.”
This is a quote to remember when you are tired, or when the road ahead looks very long. Progress is an accumulation of a million little steps. When I was in a rain forest in Costa Rica, I came upon hundreds of thousands of ants trailing in formation, building the biggest ant hill I’ve ever seen. It was probably 4 feet tall and just as wide. I will never again doubt what ants can do. Their cooperation and persistence paid off.
“Born to be wild – live to outgrow it.”
Risk and excitement are wonderful aspects of life, particularly during your youth. But, if you are smart, you enjoy your wild days but don’t do anything so dangerous that you jeopardize your chances of growing up.
“Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”
I’m sure many of you have heard the second half of this quote – No matter how long the journey or how big the task, it always begins with the first small step. The first sentence is equally important. It reminds us that tasks and problems start small; they only get bigger when they are avoided, so we ought to face our problems promptly.
“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”
Most of us have been guilty of saying some variety of, “I want to a lose couple of pounds,” and then, with that depressing knowledge, head right for the refrigerator and the chocolate brownies. Or, “I want to teach the children to talk with an ‘indoor voice’ and then turn around and yell from another room, “Have you turned off the TV?” When we want something, we need to go directly toward it or we will wind up elsewhere.
“One who is too insistent on his own views, finds few to agree with him.”
The older I get, the more I see this is true. If you are not open to other’s perspectives, your world narrows and you will find that you are only talking to yourself.
“The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth.“
I think this is a very powerful quote and it is another one that makes more sense with age. Truth is just truth; the words may not be the ones we hoped to hear. And, the words that sound beautiful to our ears, the words we longed for, may not carry truth.
To read more quotes by Lao Tzu click here