The Best of Lao Tzu (+170 Quotes)

Are you looking for a quote from the famous Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu? You will surely find it here.

We have collected all these quotes for you. Below you will find additional content (images, short clips and even articles where we look at the hidden meaning behind these Taoist quotes.

Note: We have chosen to use the spelling Lao Tzu. Other common variants are Laozi and Lao-Tze.

Are you interested in quotes from Chuang Tzu, another key figure of Daoism? Here lang please (we have collected over 160 quotes for you).

"The best fighter is never angry."

Lao Tzu

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”

Lao Tzu

“An over-sharpened sword cannot last long.”

Lao Tzu

“The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself.”

Lao Tzu

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

Lao Tzu

“Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it.”

Lao Tzu

Did you know...
...that according to Chinese legend, Lao Tzu left China on a water buffalo heading west.


“To a mind that is still the whole universe surrenders.”

Lao Tzu

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Lao Tzu

“Be like water.”

Lao Tzu

“Be still. Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity.”

Lao Tzu

“Muddy water, let stand, becomes clear”

Lao Tzu

“Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?"

Lao Tzu

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”

Lao Tzu

“Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.”

Lao Tzu

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

Lao Tzu

“Nature is not human hearted.”

Lao Tzu

“A good traveler leaves no tracks.”

Lao Tzu

“Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.”

Lao Tzu

“Great acts are made up of small deeds”

Lao Tzu

“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings”

Lao Tzu

“Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.”

Lao Tzu

“Knowing how to yield is strength.”

Lao Tzu

“Not seeking, not expecting, she is present, and can welcome all things.”

Lao Tzu

Did you know...
...that Lao Tzu is a rather mysterious figure, because there are not many clues about his life. For example, it is not known where exactly he went after he left his homeland forever.

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“Some lose yet gain, others gain and yet lose.”

Lao Tzu

“What is firmly rooted cannot be pulled out.”

Lao Tzu

“If you are untrustworthy, people will not trust you.”

Lao Tzu

“Act without expectation.”

Lao Tzu

“If lightning is the anger of the gods, then the gods are concerned mostly about trees.”

Lao Tzu

“He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.”

Lao Tzu

“Go to the people. Live with them, learn from them, love them.”

Lao Tzu

“Love is a decision – not an emotion!”

Lao Tzu

“The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.”

Lao Tzu

“If you want to know me, look inside your heart.”

Lao Tzu

“From caring comes courage.”

Lao Tzu

“Every step is on the path.”

Lao Tzu

“The world belongs to those who let go.”

Lao Tzu

“By letting go it all gets done.”

Lao Tzu

“The Tao is nowhere to be found. Yet it nourishes and completes all things.”

Lao Tzu

"Loss is not as bad as wanting more.”

Lao Tzu

“He who acts, spoils; he who grasps, lets slip.”

Lao Tzu

“The heart that gives, gathers.”

Lao Tzu

“He who obtains has little. He who scatters has much.”

Lao Tzu

“If you try to change it, you will ruin it. Try to hold it, and you will lose it.”

Lao Tzu

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

Lao Tzu

“When there is no desire, all things are at peace.”

Lao Tzu

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.”

Lao Tzu

“If you are anxious you are living in the future.”

Lao Tzu

“If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

Lao Tzu

"If you are anxious, you are living in the future.
When you are at peace, you live in the present.
When there is no desire, all things are at peace."

Lao Tzu

“By letting go it all gets done.”

Lao Tzu

“Stop thinking, and end your problems.”

Lao Tzu

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”

Lao Tzu
https://www.pinterest.ch/pin/1045890713436400741/

“To hold, you must first open your hand. Let go.”

Lao Tzu

“He who talks more is sooner exhausted.”

Lao Tzu

“The way to do is to be.”

Lao Tzu

“From wonder into wonder, existence opens.”

Lao Tzu

“Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment.”

Lao Tzu

“There is a time to live and a time to die but never to reject the moment.”

Lao Tzu

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

Lao Tzu

“Because of a great love, one is courageous.”

Lao Tzu

“Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.”

Lao Tzu

“Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”

Lao Tzu

“When you accept yourself, the whole world accepts you.”

Lao Tzu

“Sincere words are not fine; fine words are not sincere.”

Lao Tzu

“The way of heaven is to help and not harm.”

Lao Tzu

“Music in the soul can be heard by the universe.”

Lao Tzu

“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.’”

Lao Tzu

“As soon as you have made a thought, laugh at it.”

Lao Tzu

“A scholar who cherishes the love of comfort is not fit to be deemed a scholar.”

Lao Tzu

“A bad man is a good man’s job.”

Lao Tzu

Did you know...
...that Lao Tzu is believed to have lived somewhere between the 6th and 4th centuries BC. It is not known exactly, because he is a semi-legendary figure and over time many stories have become mixed with his actual biography. Today, fiction and reality of this fascinating man are inextricably intertwined


“One who is too insistent on his own views finds few to agree with him.”

Lao Tzu

“The wise man is one who knows what he does not know.”

Lao Tzu

“A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live.”

Lao Tzu

“To see things in the seed, that is genius.”

Lao Tzu

“Take care with the end as you do with the beginning.”

Lao Tzu

“The further one goes, the less one knows.”

Lao Tzu

“When goodness is lost there is morality.”

Lao Tzu

“Love is of all the passions the strongest, for it attacks simultaneously the head, the heart, and the senses.”

Lao Tzu

“When the student is ready the teacher will appear. When the student is truly ready… The teacher will disappear.”

Lao Tzu

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

Lao Tzu

“When the student is ready the teacher will appear. When the student is truly ready… The teacher will disappear.”

Lao Tzu

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

Lao Tzu

“Stop leaving and you will arrive. Stop searching and you will see. Stop running away and you will be found.”

Lao Tzu

“The more laws and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be.”

Lao Tzu

“Those who flow as life flows know they need no other force.”

Lao Tzu

“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.”

Lao Tzu

“To attain knowledge, add things everyday. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.”

Lao Tzu

“To attain knowledge, add things everyday. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.”

Lao Tzu

“Become totally empty.
Quiet the restlessness of the mind
only then will you witness everything unfolding from emptiness.”

Lao Tzu

“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.”

Lao Tzu

“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.”

Lao Tzu

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

Lao Tzu

“Everything under heaven is a sacred vessel and cannot be controlled. Trying to control leads to ruin. Trying to grasp, we lose. Allow your life to unfold naturally. Know that it too is a vessel of perfection. Just as you breathe in and breathe out, there is a time for being ahead and a time for being behind; a time for being in motion and a time for being at rest; a time for being vigorous and a time for being exhausted; a time for being safe and a time for being in danger.”

Lao Tzu

“The hard and mighty lie beneath the ground
While the tender and weak dance on the breeze above.”

Lao Tzu

“Do not conquer the world with force, for force only causes resistance. Thorns spring up when an army passes. Years of misery follow a great victory. Do only what needs to be done without using violence.”

Lao Tzu

“The master observes the world but trusts his inner vision. He allows things to come and go. He prefers what is within to what is without.”

Lao Tzu

“If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.
If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.”

Lao Tzu

“It is better to leave a vessel unfilled, than to attempt to carry it when it is full.”

Lao Tzu

“Men are born soft and supple; dead they are stiff and hard. Plants are born tender and pliant; dead, they are brittle and dry. Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail.”

Lao Tzu

“Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend.”

Lao Tzu

“If you do not value rare treasures, you will stop others from stealing.”

Lao Tzu

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

Lao Tzu

“To be worn out is to be renewed.”

Lao Tzu

“There is no disaster greater than not being content; there is no misfortune greater than being covetous.”

Lao Tzu

“Water is the softest thing, yet it can penetrate mountains and earth. This shows clearly the principle of softness overcoming hardness.”

Lao Tzu

“The reason why the universe is eternal is that it does not live for itself; it gives life to others as it transforms.”

Lao Tzu

“What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.”

Lao Tzu

“The flexible are preserved unbroken. The bent become straight. The empty are filled. The exhausted become renewed. The poor are enriched. The rich are confounded. Therefore the sage embraces the one. Because he doesn’t display himself, people can see his light. Because he has nothing to prove, people can trust his words. Because he doesn’t know who he is, people recognize themselves in him. Because he has no goal in mind, everything he does succeed. The old saying that the flexible are preserved unbroken is surely right! If you have truly attained wholeness, everything will flock to you.”

Lao Tzu

“Do you imagine the universe is agitated? Go into the desert at night and look at the stars. This practice should answer the question.”

Lao Tzu

“So the unwanting soul
sees what’s hidden,
and the ever-wanting soul
sees only what it wants.”

Lao Tzu

“Ordinary men hate solitude. But the Master makes use of it, embracing his aloneness, realizing he is one with the whole universe.”

Lao Tzu

“When wealth and honors lead to arrogancy, this brings its evil on itself.”

Lao Tzu

"Countless words
count less
than the silent balance
between Yin and Yang."

Lao Tzu

“Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides.”

Lao Tzu

“Governing a great nation is like cooking a small fish – too much handling will spoil it.”

Lao Tzu

“People in their handlings of affairs often fail when they are about to succeed. If one remains as careful at the end as he was at the beginning, there will be no failure.”

Lao Tzu

“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?”

Lao Tzu

“I do not concern myself with gods and spirits either good or evil nor do I serve any.”

Lao Tzu

“He who defends with love will be secure; Heaven will save him, and protect him with love.”

Lao Tzu

"Just stay in the middle; observe. And then forget you're there."

Lao Tzu

“Just remain in the center; watching. And then forget that you are there.”

Lao Tzu

“Our enemies are not demons, but human beings like ourselves.”

Lao Tzu

“Is it not through her selflessness that she is able to perfect herself?”

Lao Tzu

Did you know...
...that Lao Tzu is the author of Tao Te Ching - the most famous book in all of Taoism? The book has sold millions of copies, is the founder of philosophical Taoism and a deity in religious Taoism and traditional Chinese religions.


“He who knows he has enough is rich. Perseverance is a sign of willpower. He who stays where he is endures. To die but not to perish is to be eternally present.”

Lao Tzu

“There is no illusion greater than fear.”

Lao Tzu

“If I had just a little bit of wisdom I should walk the great path and fear only straying from it.”

Lao Tzu

“Composure is the ruler of instability.”

Lao Tzu

“With few there is attainment. With much there is confusion.”

Lao Tzu

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

Lao Tzu

“He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.”

Lao Tzu

“There is no greater danger than underestimating your opponent.”

Lao Tzu

“Would you like to save the world from the degradation and destruction it seems destined for? Then step away from shallow mass movements and quietly go to work on your own self-awareness. If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.”

Lao Tzu

“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.”

Lao Tzu

“To realize that you do not understand is a virtue; not to realize that you do not understand is a defect.”

Lao Tzu

“Chanting is no more holy than listening to the murmur of a stream, counting prayer beads no more scared than simply breathing, religious robes no more spiritual than work clothes.”

Lao Tzu

“Fame or integrity: which is more important? Money or happiness: which is more valuable? Success or failure: which is more destructive? If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never truly be fulfilled. If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy with yourself. 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.”

Lao Tzu

“The wise man does not lay up his own treasures.
The more he gives to others,
the more he has for his own.”

Lao Tzu

“When pure sincerity forms within, it is outwardly realized in other people’s hearts.”

Lao Tzu

“When the people of the world all know beauty as beauty, there arises the recognition of ugliness. When they all know the good as good, there arises the recognition of evil.”

Lao Tzu

Did you know...
...that Laozi himself is a Chinese honorific title and roughly translates as "Old Master." In traditional lore, Laozi's actual name is Li Er.


“The difficult problems in life always start off being simple. Great affairs always start off being small.”

Lao Tzu

“Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.
Therefore benefit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.”

Lao Tzu

“It is better to do one’s own duty, however defective it may be, than to follow the duty of another, however well one may perform it. He who does his duty as his own nature reveals it, never sins.”

Lao Tzu

“Ambition has one heel nailed in well, though she stretches her fingers to touch the heavens.”

Lao Tzu

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

Lao Tzu

“Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline; simulated fear postulates courage; simulated weakness postulates strength.”

Lao Tzu

“If the people must be ever fearful of death, then there will always be an executioner.”

Lao Tzu

“In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.”

Lao Tzu

“The wise man is square but not sharp, honest but not malign, straight but not severe, bright but not dazzling.”

Lao Tzu

"The gentlest things in the world overcome the hardest things in the world. That's how I know the advantage of doing nothing."

Lao Tzu

“Your own positive future begins in this moment. All you have is right now. Every goal is possible from here.”

Lao Tzu

“Accomplish but do not boast, accomplish without show, accomplish without arrogance, accomplish without grabbing, accomplish without forcing.”

Lao Tzu

“If a person seems wicked, do not cast him away. Awaken him with your words, elevate him with your deeds, repay his injury with your kindness. Do not cast him away; cast away his wickedness.”

Lao Tzu

“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.”

Lao Tzu

“Trying to control the future is like trying to take the master carpenter’s place. When you handle the master carpenter’s tools, chances are that you’ll cut your hand.”

Lao Tzu

“He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.”

Lao Tzu

“Respond to anger with virtue. Deal with difficulties while they are still easy. Handle the great while it is still small.”

Lao Tzu

“Colors blind the eye
Sounds deafen the ear.
Flavors numb the taste.
Thoughts weaken the mind.
Desires wither the heart.”

Lao Tzu

“The road you can talk about is not the road you can walk on.“


Did you know...
...that Lao Tzu is the founder of philosophical Taoism and is considered a deity in religious Taoism and some traditional Chinese religions.


“If you understand others you are smart.
If you understand yourself you are illuminated.
If you overcome others you are powerful.
If you overcome yourself you have strength.
If you know how to be satisfied you are rich.
If you can act with vigor, you have a will.
If you don’t lose your objectives you can be long-lasting.
If you die without loss, you are eternal.”

Lao Tzu

“When men lost their understanding of the Tao, intelligence came along, bringing hypocrisy with it.”

Lao Tzu

“Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity, reduce selfishness, have few desires.”

Lao Tzu

“To know that you do not know is the best.
To think you know when you do not is a disease.
Recognizing this disease as a disease is to be free of it.”

Lao Tzu

“The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name;
this appears as darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery.”

Lao Tzu

“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.”

Lao Tzu

“The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness.”

Lao Tzu

“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”

Lao Tzu

Did you know...
...that Lao Tzu is believed to have been born in the village of Quren, in Hu County in Chu State - which is located in modern Luyi in the eastern part of Henan Province.


“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”

Lao Tzu

“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”

Lao Tzu

“I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.”

Lao Tzu

Treat those who are good with goodness, and also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained. Be honest to those who are honest, and be also honest to those who are not honest. Thus honesty is attained.”

Lao Tzu

I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.”

Lao Tzu

"Silence is a source of great strength.”

Lao Tzu

"The road you can talk about is not the road you can walk on.”

Lao Tzu

“A leader is best
when people barely know he exists
Of a good leader, who talks little,
when his work is done, his aim fulfilled,
they will say, ‘We did this ourselves.’”

Lao Tzu
Save it and don't forget it 🙂

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2 Comments

  1. Thomas Lecke says:

    if I avoid getting involved,
    people take care of themselves,
    when I avoid giving instructions,
    people themselves find the right behavior,
    if I avoid preaching,
    people improve themselves,
    if I avoid influencing them,
    people become themselves.

    Is this also from Lao Tse?

    1. We did not know the quote yet and unfortunately could not clarify the origin beyond doubt, but it seems indeed to be from Lao Tzu/Laozi.

      It's definitely an exciting quote. Thank you for your input!

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