Lao Tzu Quotes

Lao Tzu (or Laozi) was a legendary Chinese Taoist philosopher. Laozi is a Chinese honorific, generally translated as “the Old Master”. Laozi is generally considered the founder of philosophical and religious Taoism.

He was born as Li Er in the 6th century BC and is famous for writing the Tao Te Ching before retiring into the western wilderness. However, some modern historians question this timing and even if Lao Tzu actually existed. Nevertheless, Lao Tzu is a central figure in Chinese culture, his work had a profound influence on subsequent Chinese religious movements and philosophers, who annotated, commended, and criticized his work extensively.

The following are a selection of Lao Tzu quotes that relate to the practices of sustainabilism.

Lao Tsu quotes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Loss is not as bad as wanting more.” 

“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.” 

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

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

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

“Knowing how to yield is strength.” 

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

“There is no illusion greater than fear.” 

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

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

“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?” 

“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.” 

“By letting go it all gets done.” 

“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” 

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

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

“Manifest plainness, Embrace simplicity, Reduce selfishness, Have few desires.” 

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

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

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