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The Founder of Taoism

Lao-tzu - the founder of Taoism
Lao-tzu is the presumed author of Tao-te ching
Though one may find Taoist ideas and believes in the centuries before the Warring States period (5th century BC - 3rd century BC) in China, it may be assumed that the true founder of Taoism is Lao-tzu (the Old Sage). He lived and worked as an archivist in Chou, where he met Confucius to talk about rites.

Lao-tzu is the traditional author of Tao-te ching (The Classic of Tao and its Characteristics), a handbook of wisdom written upon his retirement to West at the request of the Guardian of the Pass, Yin Hsi.

In his book Lao-tzu developed the main Taoist ideas and concepts such as Tao, wu-wei (nondoing), wu (emptiness), and fu (return). He applied his philosophy to the human condition and shaped the life style of the sages in conformity with the immutable laws of the Universe. He even traced the path of the political leaders in order to rule their lands in peace and harmony.

Most of the specialists today believe that Lao-tzu didn't exist as a person and author of Tao-te ching. His name would have been the title of the book (ascribed to him) or the name of a group of persons interested in philosophy and wisdom.

Still we study Taoism in relation with Lao-tzu, his book and his life philosophy as recorded by the Chinese antiquity historian Ssu-ma Ch'ien (145-85 BC) in his Historical Records.

Confucius picture
Confucius met Lao-tzu
in Chou to talk
about rites
Taoism may be approached as a way of life inspired by the natural course of nature. This approach is accurate if we think of the many stories contained in several important books inspired by Tao-te ching, such as: Nan-hua chen-ching (by Chuang-tzu) and The Way of Perfect Emptiness (by Lieh-tzu), dealing with life facts.

Lao-tzu was interested in shaping a specific life method to help one find the inner balance when dealing with the most confusing and challenging problems.


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