Laozi was an ancient poet and philosopher from China who is believed to have lived between 6th century and 5th century BC. Many Chinese revere Laozi to be the founder and the presiding deity of a few traditional Chinese religions and Taoism. Several anti-authoritarian movements have embraced the teachings of Laozi.
There are a number of similarities in the way Laozi explained his ideas and went about teaching with those from other Chinese philosophers belonging to his era and afterwards. In fact, most of the philosophies of Laozi have been in the form of analogy, symmetry, paradox, rhythm, rhyme, and repetition.
Popular sayings from Laozi:
1. “The usefulness of a pot comes from its emptiness.”
Meaning: Only when the pot is empty it will be of use to hold water. Similarly, a person cannot be considered useful through his/her looks alone, but with the character he/she wears. Furthermore, the person will not be considered useful merely for his/her skills, but for the mind that will help control the skills he/she possess.
2. “Try to change it and you will ruin it. Try to hold it and you will lose it.”
Meaning: Each person you come across in life is different. It is better to accept them as they are, instead of trying to change them. If you try to change them, you may end up losing them, instead of changing them.
3. “When goodness is lost, it is replaced by morality.”
Meaning: The distinction between good and bad is understood when a person ceases to have goodness.
4. “The more that laws and regulations are given prominence, the more thieves and robbers there will be.”
Meaning: If there are more number of restrictions and taboos governing us it would mean we will end up being impoverished and we will not progress.
5. “When people see some things are beautiful, other things become ugly. When people see some things as good, other things become bad.”
Meaning: This text from Laozi highlights non-discrimination. The text clearly describes how an individual should approach life. The world that we all live in is measured by objects and subjects. Therefore, there are many regulations and norms that one has to deal with. Therefore, you need to develop the right attitude in leading your life.
6. “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
Meaning: When a person loves you deeply, he or she will be there with you emotionally and therefore provides strength. Similarly, the risks and trust involved in loving someone unconditionally and deeply would mean exposing yourself to future events that are unknown to
you, therefore, the courage to bear the risks associated with them.
7. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
Meaning: It does not matter how complicated and long your endeavor might be, it should always start with something simple and short. The saying also indicates that a journey cannot be completed unless it is started.