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Something on Laozi and Tao Te Jing

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Something on Laozi and Tao Te Jing

1Ј®Introduction: Life experiences of Laozi, his masterpiece Tao Te Jing and Daoism

Laozi( originally named ÐŽoLi ErÐŽ± ), is considered as the author of Tao Te Jing and the founder of Daoism. He lived during Zhou dynasty (ca. 11th century BC - 256 BC), and acted as the head of the state library. It is said that after consulting Laozi about etiquette, Confucius likened him to a ÐŽoDragonÐŽ±. His true identity can not be determined and his real born year is also ambiguous. Si Maqian, a famous historian in Han dynasty, referred to Laozi in his book as a ÐŽoYinjunziÐŽ±, meaning ÐŽothe gentleman who left no traceÐŽ±. In Chinese ancient stories, LaoziЎЇs age also remained uncertain, varying from 160 to 200 years. It was said that his long life was the result of his practicing Dao.

As one of the greatest Chinese ancient philosopher of pre-Qin period, he has his own special values on nature, human life, society, and the cosmos. He and his masterpiece, Tao Te Jing, have a far-reaching influence on the world over later periods. The literal meaning of Tao Te JingЎЇs title is ÐŽoway virtue bookÐŽ±. The text consists of 81 short, poetic chapters. Many different translations and interpretations of Tao Te Jing exist because the text can be explained in multiple ways.

Laozi and later Zhuangzi established a religious group called ÐŽoDaoismÐŽ±. Daoists have some mystical experience-- an experience of the indescribable oneness of everything. Instead of using Dao to refer to a kind of moral guiding, Laozi takes it as a divine being, just like the model of Buddha or the mystical creator ЁC God. He challenges positive views partly by exhibiting a system of negative Dao. That famous opening line of Tao Te Jing is followed by a less noticed parallel-ÐŽoThe Dao that can be followed is not the eternal Dao. The name that can be named is not the constant name.ÐŽ±(Tao Te Jing, fragments from Chapter1)

2. LaoziЎЇs ideas on human being

Laozi believed that it was better to adapt oneself spontaneously to the environments of life than to force, to worry, or to try to hold on something. He has high opinion of simplicity, integrity, compassion, and modesty. We normally value activity, dominance, the upper position, strength and upstanding rigidity. Laozi urges us to see the value of passivity, weakness, the lower position, and receptive yielding. He insists on living according to the way of ÐŽoWu WeiÐŽ± (without striving), like bending reeds in the wind. Or, like Laozi himself phrased it: ÐŽoWhat gives way, will be whole. What bends, will straighten.ÐŽ±(Tao Te Jing, fragments from Chapter22), ÐŽoAct without striving and nothing will be out of balanceÐŽ± (Tao Te Jing, Chapter 3). The original, Chinese text of the quotations reads ÐŽoQu ze quan, wang ze zhi. Wa ze ying, bi ze xinÐŽ± (from Chapter 22) and ÐŽoWei wu wei, ze wu bu zhiÐŽ± (from Chapter 3).

In contrast to Confucius' idea of "Man is superior to womanÐŽ±, Laozi emphasizes the importance of the female and "draws sustenance from the mother". He treats the female as the "valley of the world". ÐŽoThe valley spirit never dies. It is called ÐŽ®the mysterious femaleЎЇ. The opening of the mysterious female is called ÐŽ®the root of Heaven and EarthЎЇ ÐŽ±.



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