Tao Te Ching

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The Tao Te Ching (pinyin, Dàodéjīng; traditional Chinese, 道德經; simplified Chinese, 道德经; pronounced, approximately, "dow deh jing"), although likely the product of several different authors, is a treatise attributed to Lao Tse (Lao Tzu, Laozi) that is considered to be one of the core doctrines of philosophical Taoism (Daoism). It is one of the most translated works in world literature, second only to the Bible. [1] The name itself is typically translated The Classic of the Way and Its Virtue, where Tao is translated as "The Way", Te is translated as "Virtue", and Ching translates to "Classic". [2] [3] [4] [5]

The origins of the Tao Te Ching are unclear, but historians agree that it first appeared during the Spring and Autumn Period of ancient China, which places its genesis sometime during the second half of the 8th century BCE to the first half of the 5th century BCE. [5] [6] The name of this period is derived from the Spring and Autumn Annals, a chronicle of the state of Lu between 722 BCE and 481 BCE, traditionally associated with Confucius. As Lao Tse is typically considered an older contemporary of Confucius, that would place the origins of this work roughly within the late 5th to early 8th centuries BCE.

The exact circumstances surrounding the origin of the Tao Te Ching remain unclear, although one popular recounting places Lao Tse as the keeper of the imperial archives at Loyang in the Henan province during the sixth century BCE. [7]When he saw that the kingdom was in decline, he decided to leave. Upon reaching the border, the official in charge of the border pass stopped him and asked him to put his teachings into writing, and, before leaving, Lao Tse wrote out the 5000 words of the Tao Te Ching.

The Tao Te Ching examines many of the same ideas as Western Philosophers. For instance…


Ch 1 • The Tao that can be told is not the Eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the Eternal Name. The unnameable is the eternally real. Naming is the origin of all particular things. -Mitchell

Note:Another alternative translation of this same passage is as follows...

• There are ways but the Way is uncharted; There are names but not nature in words. Nameless indeed is the source of creation But things have a mother and she has a name. -Blakney

Ch 2 ...Being and non-being create (or balance, or produce) each other...

Ch 51 The Tao gives birth to all things....


Ch 18 ...knowledge and wisdom are born along with hypocrisy.... -Merel

Ch 47 ...The more you know, the less you understand. Thus, the wise man knows without traveling, sees without looking, and achieves without actions.

Ch 48 In the pursuit of knowledge, every day something is added. In the practice of Tao, every day something is dropped. -Mitchell

Ch 65 The ancient Masters didn’t try to educate the people, but kindly taught them to not know. When they think that they know the answers, people are difficult to guide. When they know that they don’t know, people can find their own way. -Mitchell

Weakness of will

Ch13 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? See the world as your self. -Mitchell

Ch 33 He who knows others is wise; He who knows himself is enlightened. He who conquers others has physical strength. He who conquers himself is strong. -Chan


Ch 14 ...Just realize where you come from: this is the essence of all wisdom. -Mitchell


  1. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/laozi/
  2. Blakney, R. (1955). The way of life. The Penguin Group: New York.
  3. Bynner, W. (1944). The way of life. Capricorn Books: New York.
  4. Holmes, W. (1957). Taoism: The parting of the way. Beacon Press: Boston
  5. 5.0 5.1 Wong, E. (1997). The shambhala guide to taoism. Shambhala Press: Boston.
  6. Chang, S. (1985). The great tao. Tao Publishing: San Francisco.
  7. English, J., Feng, Gia-Fu. (1972). Tao Te Ching. Vintage Books: New York.