The following quotes by Lao Tzu can help us to recognise profound inner truths about our lives and become accepting, calm and fulfilled individuals.
Who was Lao Tzu?
He was born in China between the 6th and 5th centuries B.C. under the Zhou Dynasty. We don’t know much about him other than that he was a Chinese writer and philosopher. Scholars even dispute whether he even existed at all.
However, he is said to be the founder of Taoism. It is a philosophy and religious ideology that purports that true peace and virtue comes with being in motion or one with the nature and rhythms of the universe (the Tao).
He is generally attributed as the best-known or primary author of a text called the Tao Te Ching (although this text probably has contributions from many writers). This text is an embodiment of Lao Tzu’s philosophy and echoes the basic teachings of Taoism.
From this we can garner worth from Lao Tzu’s quotes about calmness, acceptance and awareness of fundamental truths about our individual lives that we may have lost or forgotten.
Lao Tzu’s Philosophy
Tao Te Ching reflects the essence of Lao Tzu’s philosophy and also offers succinct and comforting quotes that encourage us to think deeply about the inner aspects of our lives.
There is a focus on two things: the individual and nature, and how the two should be in harmony with one another. Fulfilment and value come from acceptance and appreciation of the natural order of things. This is what we should learn to follow and take inspiration from.
The Tao Te Ching gives instruction on how to live a fulfilled and tranquil life by giving guidance on how to deal with the inner strife and anxieties that may plague all of us at some point or another.
We should rid ourselves of unnecessary damaging thoughts and ruinous turmoil. To do this, we should manifest the facets of the natural world into our psyche and way of life. This could mean not resisting an inevitable path your life may take. This could also mean not worrying or fixating upon irrelevant hypotheticals about your past or future that can deeply harm you in the present.
Whatever aspect Lao Tzu urges us to analyse or question about ourselves, the aim should be to expose the inner truths about our existence and to remedy the harmful angst that can loom over us all.
6 Quotes by Lao Tzu That Can Help You in Life
These quotes are simple yet thoughtful statements that demonstrate Lao Tzu’s philosophy and echo the values of Taoism. They reveal to us deep-seated inner truths through the importance of calm and acceptance in the face of difficult and painful inner turmoil.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
When faced with difficult or what may seem impossible tasks, we can often feel overwhelmed and helpless in light of such situations. Perhaps you are trying to repair a broken relationship, grieving for a loved one or rebuilding your life after bankruptcy. These situations are large and arduous struggles that can cause us deep distress.
However, we can’t overcome them at one leap. It takes a long process of gradual acceptance and improvement before you can remedy it or feel content with the dilemma. The maxim ‘one step at a time’ can seem trivial but nevertheless rings true.
“Care about what other people think of you and you will always be their prisoner.”
Obsessing over what other’s opinions or views of you is of great detriment to you. It will prevent you from flourishing into a fulfilled and successful individual. If we learn to not be shackled by these thoughts, then we will be free to pursue and achieve our goals and desires.
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
This reflects on the basic Taoist idea of moving with the natural order of things. Unexpected events or incidents can catch us by surprise and can cause us distress or discomfort.
Maybe your employer has made you redundant or the weather causes your flight for an anticipated holiday to be cancelled. Resisting or trying to combat changes that are out of our control can cause the situation to become more intense. This manifests anger and worries in your mind.
We should learn to accept these changes and know that there will be opportunities to help make things better.
“Empty yourself of everything – let the mind become still.”
Our minds can be clouded by things we should not and do not need to worry about. Perhaps it is a past mistake that cannot be changed or you worry that you were too drunk at a party you attended recently. If we learn to empty ourselves of unnecessary worries, we can work towards a calm and satisfying state of being.
“A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”
Having strict and rigid plans laid out for us in life can rob us of so much potential joy and positive experience. Instead, we should be open-minded and utilise unexpected opportunities that may arise. You may end up in a job or lifestyle that you had never comprehended. But at the same time, you may be more content now than ever.
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
Your true desires, passions and ambitions may be quenched by the life that you have found yourself in. A job that you don’t enjoy, friends that pull you down or an area that offers little opportunity…
Have the courage to let go of the things that are preventing you from fulfilment. If you are able to do this, then there will be opportunities for true contentment, prosperity and harmony.
Why these quotes are important
These quotes by Lao Tzu can seem quite vague and ambiguous. However, they encompass important, universal inner truths that are easy to lose awareness of. Lao Tzu encourages us to not be deterred by things that are out of our control. He also remins us to follow our instincts and desires in order to be sincere to our true selves. Only then can we hope to attain fulfilment.
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