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The Founder of Taoism

Lao-tzu - the founder of Taoism
Lao-tzu - founder of Taoism
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 (translated Venerable 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 Tao (change).

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 real 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 who would write the book.

Confucius picture
Confucius met Lao-tzu
in Chou to talk
about rites
Still we study Taoism in relation with Lao-tzu, seen as the originator of Taoism, his book and his teachings as recorded by the Chinese antiquity historian Ssu-ma Ch'ien (145-85 BC) in his Historical Records.

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 Book of Perfect Emptiness (by Lieh-tzu), dealing with life facts.

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