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Lao Tzu c.604–c.531 bc
Chinese philosopher; founder of Taoism

  1. The Tao [Way] that can be told of is not the eternal Tao;
    The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
    The Nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth;
    The Named is the mother of all things.
     
    Tao-te Ching ch. 1, tr. Wing-Tsit Chan
  2. Front and back follow each other.
    Therefore the sage manages affairs without action
    And spreads doctrines without words.
     
    Tao-te Ching ch. 2, tr. Wing-Tsit Chan
  3. Heaven and earth are not humane
    They regard all things as straw dogs.
    The sage is not humane.
    He regards all people as straw dogs.
     
    Tao-te Ching ch. 5, tr. Wing-Tsit Chan
  4. Thirty spokes share the wheel's hub;
    It is the centre hole that makes it useful.
    Shape clay into a vessel;
    It is the space within that makes it useful.
    Cut doors and windows for a room;
    It is the holes which make it useful.
    Therefore profit comes from what is there;
    Usefulness from what is not there.
     
    Tao-te Ching ch. 11
  5. The best [rulers] are those whose existence is [merely] known by the people…
    [The great rulers] accomplish their task; they complete their work.
    Nevertheless their people say that they simply follow Nature.
     
    often quoted as, ‘A leader is best when people barely know he exists…He acts without unnecessary speech, and when the work is done the people say “We did it ourselves”’
    Tao-te Ching ch. 17, tr. Wing-Tsit Chan
  6. Let people hold on to these:
    Manifest plainness,
    Embrace simplicity,
    Reduce selfishness,
    Have few desires.
     
    Tao-te Ching ch. 19, tr. Wing-Tsit Chan
  7. A good traveller leaves no track or trace.
    often quoted as ‘A good traveller has no fixed plans’
    Tao-te Ching ch. 27, tr. Wing-Tsit Chan
  8. 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.
     
    Tao-te Ching ch. 33, tr. Wing-Tsit Chan
  9. The further one goes, the less one knows.
     
    Tao-te Ching ch. 47, tr. Wing-Tsit Chan
  10. He who knows does not speak.
    He who speaks does not know.
     
    Tao-te Ching ch. 56, tr. Wing-Tsit Chan
  11. The more laws and orders are made prominent,
    The more thieves and bandits there will be.
     
    Tao-te Ching ch. 57, tr. Wing-Tsit Chan
  12. A tower of nine storeys begins with a heap of earth.
    The journey of a thousand li starts from where one stands.
     
    Tao-te Ching ch. 64
  13. There is nothing softer and weaker than water,
    And yet there is nothing better for attacking hard and strong things.
    For this reason there is no substitute for it.
    All the world knows that the weak overcomes the strong and the soft overcomes the hard.
    But none can practice it.
     
    Tao-te Ching ch. 78, tr. Wing-Tsit Chan
  14. The Way of the sage is to act but not to compete.
     
    Tao-te Ching ch. 81, tr. Wing-Tsit Chan

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