Revised: April 18, 2011

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“The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth.”
- LAO TZU                  
Lao Tzu (Old Master)
Chinese Taoist Philosopher, c. 600 B.C.E.

The specific date of birth of Lao Tzu is unknown. Legends vary, but scholars place his birth between 600 and 300 B.C.E. Lao Tzu is attributed with the writing of the “Tao-Te Ching,” (tao—meaning the way of all life, te—meaning the fit use of life by men, and ching—meaning text or classic). Lao Tzu was not his real name, but an honorific given the sage, meaning “Old Master.”

Lao Tzu’s wise counsel attracted followers, but he refused to set his ideas down in writing. He believed that written words might solidify into formal dogma. Lao Tzu wanted his philosophy to remain a natural way to live life with goodness, serenity and respect. Lao Tzu laid down no rigid code of behavior. He believed a person’s conduct should be governed by instinct and conscience.

Lao Tzu believed that human life, like everything else in the universe, is constantly influenced by outside forces. He believed “simplicity” to be the key to truth and freedom. Lao Tzu encouraged his followers to observe, and seek to understand the laws of nature; to develop intuition and build up personal power; and to use that power to lead life with love, and without force.

Legend says that in the end Lao Tzu, saddened by the evil of men, set off into the desert on a water buffalo leaving civilization behind. When he arrived at the final gate at the great wall protecting the kingdom, the gatekeeper persuaded him to record the principles of his philosophy for posterity. The result was the eighty-one sayings of the “Tao-Te Ching.” This ancient Chinese text is the world’s most translated classic next to the Bible.

If you are aware of books, movies, databases, web sites or other information sources about Lao Tzu or related subjects, or if you would like to comment, please contact us.

Resource Menu
Books By/About Lao Tzu

Dao De Jing Dao De Jing: A New-Millennium Translation
by Lao Tzu, David H. Li (Translator)

The material is presented interlinearly, meaning a short passage of two or three lines in Chinese is immediately translated (and followed by footnotes where needed) before moving onto another passage in Chinese. The work includes a chronology of the author; a listing of 59 rhymed passages (Lao Tzu used rhyme for emphasis—and passages that are rhymed are, by inference, important ones in his view); a subject-specific comparison of passages in DDJ with those in Confucius's “Analects” (using the Li’s own translation, published in 1999), yielding 71 entries; another subject-specific comparison with Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” (again, using Li’s translation, published in 2000); a bibliography; a list of DDJ translations in English; and a 20-page subject index.

Purchase this paperback edition of Dao De Jing

Tao Te Ching Tao Te Ching (Kindle Edition)
by Lao Tzu

This Kindle ebook edition has been prepared cleanly and simply to invite repeated readings and browsing.

Purchase this Kindle edition of Tao Te Ching

The Essential Tao The Essential Tao
by Thomas Cleary, Lao-Tzu, Chuang-Tzu

An initiation into the heart of Taoism through the authentic Tao Te Ching and the Inner Teachings of Chuang-Tzu. Composed of two ancient Taoist classics that explore the Tao.

Purchase this hardcover edition of The Essential Tao

Lao-tzu and the Tao-te-ching Lao-tzu and the Tao-te-ching
by Lao Tzu, Livia Kohn (Editor), Michael Lafargue (Editor)

A coherent collection of materials on the Tao-te-ching and its author, describing traditional and modern Western Interpretations. Written and edited by recognized international specialists in the field, this book brings Lao-tzu and the Tao-te-ching together to present current scholarship on their history and interpretation.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Lao-tzu and the Tao-te-ching

Jesus and Lao Tzu: The Parallel Sayings Jesus and Lao Tzu: The Parallel Sayings
by Martin Aronson (Editor)

Comparing the New Testament with the Tao Te Ching, Taoism's most sacred teachings, Jesus and Lao Tzu features astonishing examples of these two spiritual masters leading their followers down the same path despite vast differences in time and geography.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Jesus and Lao Tzu: The Parallel Sayings

The Secret Coloring Book of Lao Tzu The Secret Coloring Book of Lao Tzu
by Barry Lane, Robin Lane, Illustrator

Sparse wording and evocative illustrations, presenting the startling and easygoing Way of Tao - the teachings of legendary Chinese sage rendered in simple and direct terms. These morsels of timeless wisdom invite coloring, decorating and personalizing. A book for all ages. 28 pages of 8 1/2" x 11" coloring book illustrations. Click here to view sample pages.

Purchase this paperback edition of The Secret Coloring Book of Lao Tzu

DVDs About Lao Tzu/Taoism

Chinese Taoism Chinese Taoism

This DVD program is about the origin and evolution of Taoism, as well as its great impact upon Chinese literature, philosophy, medicine, chemistry and health preservation. Special efforts have been made to trace Taoism in modern Chinese society. Chinese with English subtitles.

Purchase this DVD edition of Chinese Religions: Chinese Taoism

Lao Tzu/Taoism Online Videos

Tao Te Ching in Three Parts:

Daoism; The Ying and the Yang

Lao Tzu eTexts

Tao Te Ching
Translated by S. Mitchell

Related Websites

Tao Te Ching | Translations & Interpretations

A General Introduction to Daoism in China

Taoism Initiation Page
Online Resources for Study and Practice

True Tao Home Page

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Lao Tzu

Related Figures in the Lucidcafé Library

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