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27 Tao Te Ching Quotes That Teach an Important Lesson

by Gloria Louden
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Ever since I was in high school, I’ve had an interest in Chinese culture and, specifically, their writings. As a result, I’ve read everything I got my hands on, from Romance Of The Three Kingdoms to Water Margin. However, a peculiar work of art, called Tao Te Ching, was always under my radar, waiting to be discovered. But that changed the day I read some astonishing Tao Te Ching quotes while browsing the internet.

What followed was a day-long rush to research everything I could about this specific book. The deeper I looked, the more interesting facts I found. For example, I had no idea that Tao Te Ching is a fundamental text for Taoism and its influence spans all Chinese religions. The next thing I knew is that I was hooked, spending the next few days reading it.

Although the authors are still under debate, most people credit Tao Te Ching to the Chinese philosopher Laozi. As a result, the book is oozing with philosophical ideas and concepts regarding hope, love, and leadership. Reading this book is a journey into itself and will definitely teach anyone some important lessons. But enough introduction, it’s time to share some Tao Te Ching quotes which will surely prove my points.

27 Thought-Provoking Tao Te Ching Quotes

Inspiring Tao Te Ching Quotes

#1. “Success is as dangerous as failure. Hope is as hollow as fear.”

#2. “Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill. Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt.”

#3. “To bear and not to own; to act and not lay claim; to do the work and let it go: for just letting it go is what makes it stay.”

#4. “Let it be still, and it will gradually become clear.”

#5. “What is firmly rooted cannot be pulled out.”

#6. “The heart that gives, gathers.”

#7. “A violent wind does not last for a whole morning; a sudden rain does not last for the whole day.”

#8. “If we could renounce our sageness and discard our wisdom, it would be better for the people a hundredfold.”

Tao Te Ching Quotes About Leadership

#9. “When the work is done, and one’s name is becoming distinguished, to withdraw into obscurity is the way of Heaven.”

#10. “All streams flow to the sea because it is lower than they are. Humility gives it its power. If you want to govern the people, you must place yourself below them. If you want to lead the people, you must learn how to follow them.”

#11. “A skillful soldier is not violent; An able fighter does not rage; A mighty conqueror does not give battle; A great commander is a humble man”

#12. “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”

#13. “When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.”

#14. “A great nation is like a great man: When he makes a mistake, he realizes it. Having realized it, he admits it. Having admitted it, he corrects it. He considers those who point out his faults as his most benevolent teachers. He thinks of his enemy as the shadow that he himself casts.”

#15. “When the Master governs, the people are hardly aware that he exists. Next best is a leader who is loved. Next, one who is feared. The worst is one who is despised. If you don’t trust people, you make them untrustworthy. The Master doesn’t talk, he acts. When his work is done, the people say, “Amazing: we did it, all by ourselves!”

Iconic Tao Te Ching Quotes

#16. “The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth.”

#17. “Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?”

#18. “Give evil nothing to oppose and it will disappear by itself.”

#19. “To understand the limitation of things, desire them.”

#20. “If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.”

#21. “Hope and fear are both phantoms that arise from thinking of the self. When we don’t see the self as self, what do we have to fear?”

#22. “Countless words count less than the silent balance between yin and yang.”

#23. “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arriving. A good artist lets his intuition lead him wherever it wants. A good scientist has freed himself of concepts and keeps his mind open to what is.”

#24. What is a good man but a bad man’s teacher? What is a bad man but a good man’s job? If you don’t understand this, you will get lost, however intelligent you are. It is the great secret.”

#25. “My teachings are easy to understand and easy to put into practice. Yet your intellect will never grasp them, and if you try to practice them, you’ll fail. My teachings are older than the world. How can you grasp their meaning? If you want to know me, Look inside your heart.”

#26. “Rushing into action, you fail. Trying to grasp things, you lose them. Forcing a project to completion, you ruin what was almost ripe. Therefore the Master takes action by letting things take their course. He remains as calm at the end as at the beginning. He has nothing, thus has nothing to lose. What he desires is non-desire; what he learns is to unlearn. He simply reminds people of who they have always been. He cares about nothing but the Tao. Thus he can care for all things.”

#27. “He who stands on tiptoe doesn’t stand firm. He who rushes ahead doesn’t go far. He who tries to shine dims his own light. He who defines himself can’t know who he really is. He who has power over others can’t empower himself. He who clings to his work will create nothing that endures.”

Wisdom Above All

All in all, Tao Te Ching is well-deserving of its high praise and popularity. Although it’s not an easy read, giving it a try will definitely be worth it. Just be ready to question some of your concepts and ideas while contemplating the text. But if you are not up for it, no need to worry, you can always brush up on some Tao Te Ching quotes.

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