Sunday, July 27, 2008

Lao Tzu Biography

The main source of information on Lao Tzu's life is a biography written by the historian Ssu-ma Ch'ien (145–86 B.C.E.) in his Records of the Historian. By this time a number of traditions or beliefs about the founder of Chinese Taoism were going around, and Ssu-ma Ch'ien himself was unsure of their authenticity. The biography in fact contains an account of not one but three men called Lao Tzu.

The first Lao Tzu was a man named Li Erh or Li Tan, who came from the village of Ch'üjen in the southern Chinese state of Ch'u. Li Erh served as historian in charge of the official records in the Chinese imperial capital of Loyang. He was a peer of the famous Chinese philosopher Confucius (551–479 B.C.E.), and he is reported to have given an interview to Confucius when he came to Loyang seeking information on the Chou ritual.

Another man identified as the founder of Taoism was Lao Lai Tzu, who also came from Ch'u. He is said to be a person of the same age as Confucius and is credited with a fifteen-chapter book explaining the teachings of the Taoist school. Nothing more is known about the second Lao Tzu.

According to a third account, the original Lao Tzu lived 129 years after the death of Confucius. This man went by the name of Tan, the historian of Chou. Actually, it is impossible to prove the historical accuracy of any of these accounts. Lao Tzu is not really a person's name and is only a complimentary name meaning "old man." It was common in this period to refer to respected philosophers and teachers with words meaning "old" or "mature." It is possible that a man who assumed the pseudonym (assumed name) Lao Tzu was a historical person, but the term Lao Tzu also was used as a substitute title to the supreme Taoist classic, Tao te ching (Classic of the Way and the Power).

According to Ssu-ma Ch'ien, Lao Tzu had been serving in the Chou capital for a long time. He became unhappy with the dishonest political situation and decided to go into retirement. As he was passing through the Hanku Pass west of Loyang, the gate-keeper stopped him and asked him to write down a book of his teachings. Lao Tzu then composed a book of five thousand sayings in two sections that described the theory of the tao and te. This book was then known as the Tao te ching.

Lao Tzu is frequently associated with the other famous early Chinese thinker, Confucius. There are numerous stories about debates that supposedly took place between these two great philosophers in which Lao Tzu was always the winner. These stories are undoubtedly anti-Confucian publicity circulated by members of the Taoist school, perhaps as early as the fourth century B.C.E.

Tao te ching

Lao Tzu's Tao te ching itself is a collection of sayings describing the principal Taoist teachings. Most scholars now agree that Lao Tzu did not write this book, mainly because no one knows whether he was a historical person. The most convincing theory is that there were a large number of proverbs (wise sayings) that were part of the Taoist teaching. They were memorized and passed on from teacher to pupil. Eventually the best of these sayings were collected and edited into the book, which was then given the title Tao te ching. A study of the style and grammar of the work reveals that it must have been put together around the fourth century B.C.E.

Lao Tzu's Tao te ching has confused its readers for centuries. Its language is extremely short and unclear. Much of the text is rhymed. Although the work is divided into chapters, the passages in a chapter do not always refer to the same subject. Thus, it hardly qualifies as a well-organized book of philosophical teachings.

The most important concept developed in Lao Tzu's Tao te ching is tao. Tao literally means "road" or "way." In the Tao te ching it is portrayed as something that cannot be expressed, a concept beyond definition. "The way (tao) that can be told of is not the constant way." Tao is so indescribable that the term itself is often not used and is referred to only indirectly. Tao stands as the force behind the universe. There is even an indication that it is the universe itself.

An important quality of the tao is its "weakness," or "submissiveness." Because the tao itself is basically weak and submissive, it is best for man to put himself in harmony with the tao. Thus, the Tao te ching places strong emphasis on nonaction (wu wei), which means the absence of aggressive action. Man should not strive for wealth or fame, and violence is to be avoided. This peaceful approach to life was extremely influential in later periods and led to the development of a particular Taoist way of living that involved special breathing exercises and special eating habits that were designed to maintain calmness and harmony with the tao.


Be Content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.


In life every person want to change their outlook. It is one of the best approaches to be considered. Improving a persons outlook in life requires a long to implement. The person must be willing for change in order to achieve it. Nobody is perfect in life but if the person is well motivated and determined he definite succeed.

The question now is “ Is there a much more efficient way in improving a persons outlook in life?” Yes there are plenty of ways to do so. One of which is auto suggestion. It is a process in which a person deceives its mind thinking that he can achieve a certain goal given a period of time. In history auto suggestion is used in some propaganda campaign it may either good or evil, this method is very effective. The more you repeat a certain topic over and over in a period of time the person sooner or later will then be convinced that it is the truth even if the campaign is a lie. Adolf Hitler used this method in implementing the final solution. In which he deceives his subjects and the entire European Community that the Jews are evil and they should be eliminated. Those are the bad side of auto suggestion. Auto suggestion also have some good sides this method can influence a persons mind in achieving ones goal. Auto suggestion backed up with faith and determination is a very potent combination in order to achieve ones goal in life. As what Napoleon Hill have said in his book Think and grow rich, states that “ Whatever a mind of a man can conceived and believe it can and will be achieved.” The mind of a person has limitless boundaries for achievement and for success, it is a very powerful instrument to waste. Wasting the mind is a terrible thing to do, a person should consider its value before doing something that might compromise it.

Another method is motivation. It s process in which you convinced a person to do something by means of rewards that satisfy their needs satisfaction. It is also and effective method in improving a persons outlook. Once a person is well motivated, he will do anything that is bound by the law or sometimes not in order to achieve a certain goal. Motivation is very helpful in an organization. When the members of a certain organization is well motivated to achieve a certain goal. The organization is bound for success, but without it it is bound for failure.

Life is a never ending struggle only the one who has the courage will survive. During tribulations it is your outlook in life that will make you succeed if you think positive into something there is a tendency for it to be fulfilled. In life it is not always the strong or the fastest who win, but the man who thinks that he can despite the odds he is facing. So give everything so that if everything will fall into place, you will have no regrets.