Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Lao Tzu, ne Li Urh, also Laotse, Lao Tse, Lao Tse, Lao Zi, Laozi, Lao Zi, La-tsze

Chinese Philosopher, Founder of Taoism, Author of Tao Te Ching (The Book of the Way and Its Power) and Hua Hu Ching

"I would return good for good; I would also return good for evil. I would meet trust with trust; I would likewise meet suspicion with confidence."

"If it be the right way, advance; if it be the wrong way, retire."

"In managing human affairs, there is no better rule than self-restraint. "

"In this world there is nothing softer or thinner than water. But to compel the hard and unyielding, it has no equal. That the weak overcomes the strong, that the hard gives way to the gentle - this everyone knows, yet no one acts accordingly."

"If you let restlessness move you, you lose touch with who you are. "

"It is the Child that sees the primordial secret in Nature and it is the child of ourselves we return to. The child within us is simple and daring enough to live the Secret."

"It is the Way of Heaven to take from those who have too much, and give to those who have too little. By the way of man is not so. He takes away from those who have too little, to add to his own superabundance."

"It’s the nothing that makes it possible... Empty of the roles, we dance with Spirit. "

"Just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognize the usefulness of what is not. "

"Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity, reduce selfishness, have few desires. "

"Nature is not benevolent; with ruthless indifference she makes all things serve their purposes. "

"Kindness in words creates confidence, kindness in thinking creates profoundness, kindness in giving creates love. "

"Learning consists in adding one’s stock day by day. The practice of Tao consists in subtracting day by day: subtracting and yet again subtracting until one has reached inactivity. "

"Life is to be in relations. "

"Misery is but the shadow of happiness. "

"Requite injury with kindness. "

"Nurturing life does not aim at preserving the body but at nourishing the spirit, allowing it to live forever. "

"Principles can always be used toward evil ends, so maybe if these principles never existed, the bad person wouldn't be able to do so much harm. "

"Reversion to destiny is called eternity. "

"Sincere words are not grand; grand words are not sincere."

"Seek not happiness too greedily, and be not fearful of unhappiness. "

"The best soldier does not attack. The superior fighter succeeds without violence. The greatest conqueror wins without a struggle. The most successful manager leads without dictating. This is called intelligent non-aggressiveness. This is called mastery of men. "

"Without going out of doors, one may know the whole world, without looking out the window, one may see the way of heaven. The further one travels, the less one may know. Thus it is that without moving you shall know, without looking you shall see, without doing you shall achieve."

"The difference between certainly and perhaps is not much after all. "

"The name that can be named is not the eternal name. "

"The principles of music and wood carving are alike -- when a wood carving is finished, it has been created at the expense of all the wood that has been carved away. Only the music of nature is complete and undiminished. "

"The reality of the building does not consist in the roof and walls, but in the space within to be lived in."

"The great revolution is stillness. "

"The imponderable enters the impenetrable. "

"The rewards of vice and virtue are like the shadow following the substance. "

"The sage himself never strives for the great, and thereby the great is achieved."

"The Way of the sage is to act but not to compete. "

"The slaying of multitudes should be mourned with sorrow. A victory should be celebrated with the funeral rite. "

"There is no greater curse than the lack of contentment. No greater sin than the desire for possession. Therefore, he who is contented with contentment shall always be content. "

"There is no greater evil than making light of the enemy... There is nothing so unfortunate as entering lightly into battle, for by so doing we are in danger of losing that which is most precious. "

"The wise man is wise because he understands his ignorance... The wise are not learned; the learned are not wise. "

"Things fully grown are ready to decay."

"To gentlest thing in the world will over-ride the strongest... To remain gentle is to be invincible. "

"To keep one's tenderness is called strength. "

"To joy in conquest is to joy in the loss of human life. "

"To produce without possessing; to work without expecting; to enlarge without usurping: this is the supreme virtue."

"To know one's ignorance is the best part of knowledge. "

"To teach without words and to be useful without action, few among men are capable of this. "

"To yield is to be preserved whole. To be bent is to become straight. "

"Virtue in its grandest aspect is neither more nor less than following reason. "

"We lose our carefree nature by separating our minds into cubicles and stuffing them full of knowledge. We should strive to break these boundaries and transcend knowledge. "

"Useful and useless, achievement and failure, are all relative, and none are necessarily consistent over time. "

"What is important is the existence of the real self, so why bother complaining about the changes that go on around us. "

"Who is there that can make muddy water clear? But if permitted to remain still, it will gradually become clear of itself. "

"We look at it and do not see it; its name is The Invisible. We listen to it and do not hear it; its name is The Inaudible. We touch it and do not find it; its name is The Formless."