The 5 Eastern philosophers everyone should know about — 5

Laozi, Lao-Tzu or Lao-Tze, literally “Old Master” was an ancient Chinese philosopher and writer and the founder of philosophical Taoism. He is considered to be a deity in religious Taoism and traditional Chinese religions.

Little is truly known about this Chinese philosopher. He is said to have been a record keeper in the court of the central Chinese Zhou Dynasty in the 6th century B.C and an older contemporary of Confucius. According to the legend, getting increasingly tired of life in the morally corrupt Zhou court, he left and rode on a water buffalo to the western border of the Chinese empire. Although he was dressed as a farmer, the border official recognized him and asked him to write down his wisdom. What Lao Tzu wrote became the sacred text called the Tao Te Ching. After writing this piece, Lao Tzu is said to have crossed the border and disappeared from history, perhaps to become a hermit. In reality, the Tao Te Ching is likely to be a compilation of the works of many authors over time.

Four main principles in Taoism are linked with each other and together form a one whole that is the “WAY”.

First we have the Principle of Oneness…“ Taoism starts and ends with the observation of nature and both the observer and the observed make one entire system.

Every being in the universe is an expression of nature, an expression of Tao. Everything comes into existence perfect and free, we take on a physical body and allow circumstances to complicate it.

The Tao gives birth to all beings, nourishes them, maintains them, cares for them, protects them and then takes them back to itself. But, we are always separating things into `us` and `them`. And this is where we get the second principle of Taoism, because a distinction between 2 things doesn’t mean they are in opposition to each other. Rather, they exist in principle of the Dynamic Balance.

There are always 2 basic distinctions in nature which is characterized by ‘Yin and Yang’ (as the sun and moon, heaven and earth, dark and light, order and chaos). But Taoism sees balance as the characteristic underlying these distinctions. From this comes energy which then creates all creation. In this way all life embodies Yin and Yang showing that everything is a balance of the same thing rather than opposite or differing of each other.

And these two basic polarities not only balance each other, they also complement each other in cycles. This is the third principle, the principle of Cyclical Growth. The sun is replaced by the moon, the moon is replaced by the sun. Summer is replaced by winter, then winter replaced by summer. Everywhere in nature we find these basic cycles as in yielding/overcoming, fighting/withdrawing, giving/taking.

Taoists believe that because these polarities which seem to be opposite to each other actually balance each other and work together through cycles, you can actually produce one from the other.

This leads to the fourth principle, which is Harmonious Action.

When a bamboo stick bends with the wind, instead of yielding being a weakness, it is a strength because by yielding the stick does not break. Thus weakness produces strength and strength produces weakness.
This is an important lesson in our lives. If we want to be whole we need to let ourselves be partial. If we want to be full, we need to first learn emptiness, if we want to have everything, we need to give up everything first.

These principles guide us in how to live our lives in harmony with the T

Taoism has had a profound influence on Chinese culture in the course of the centuries. Chinese alchemy (especially Neidan), Chinese astrology, Chan (Zen) Buddhism, several martial arts, traditional Chinese medicine, Feng Shui have been intertwined with Taoism throughout history. Today, even beyond China, Taoism also has influence on several surrounding societies in Asia.

Famous quotes…

1.Knowing others is intelligence;
knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength; 
mastering yourself is true power.

2. Simplicity, patience, compassion.
 These three are your greatest treasures.
 Simple in actions and thoughts, 
you return to the source of being.

3.When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.

4.A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live.

5.Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?

6.When there is no desire,
all things are at peace.

7. Success is as dangerous as failure.
Hope is as hollow as fear.

8. Give evil nothing to oppose
and it will disappear by itself.