by Weiyi from Ellicott City
In the very center of Chinese culture, Lao-tzu has played a very significant role and has constantly influenced Chinese even today. Lao-tzu was born around sixth century BC in China and was an older contemporary of Confucius (“Lao-tzu”, 1). Lao-tzu’s life has different types of versions. According to the tale that I heard when I was young: Lao-tzu’s mother was seeing a falling star from the sky while she was pregnant. She had carried Lao-tzu 72 years before Lao-tzu was being born. He had white hair and a beard. Lao-tzu in Chinese means “old master” and that is the one reason Lao-tzu got his name. The other less supernatural tale of Lao-tzu is that he was an official at the Zhou (which was a state of China) court. He had a son who was a soldier of Zhou. After serving for a long time, Lao-tzu became sick of Zhou court’s morals and behaviors. He decided to retire and ride an ox to the west. Before he left, he wrote a 5000 word book named “Tao-Te-Ching.”(“Lao-tzu,”2)
Later on, the book of “Tao-Te-Ching” became the foundation of Daoism (Taoism). In his book, Lao-tzu introduced a concept of Dao which is the absolute principle of the universe, combining within it the principles of yin and yang and the way that is in harmony with nature. In a word, Dao in Chinese means the way. This is the most significant discovery in Chinese philosophy and is the core that forms Chinese culture. The teaching of Dao not only enlightens Chinese mind, but also introduces a new concept of way of life. The way we live with nature, the way we share with others, and the way we discover the universe. Lao-tzu taught us not to strive for wealth or fame. Violence needed to be avoided and we should always follow the balance and harmony. Like one of my favorite excerpts from Tao-Te-Ching:
“The supreme good is like water, which nourishes all things without trying to. It is content to take the low places that people scorn. Thus it is like the Dao. Water is the softest and meekest thing in the world. Yet it is best able to overcome that which strong and solid.“
Throughout the flow of Chinese history, Lao-tzu has been constantly admired as a hero. His teaching and his philosophy not only forms a unique Chinese culture, but also enlightens the Chinese in a way of life. I personally admire Lao-tzu as a hero to me. I favor Daoism and I believe in Dao. The interpretation of Dao gives me a new way to view our life, nature and universe. Due to the teaching of Dao, I have greatly understood the importance of balance and harmony that we must achieve upon this world. “The supreme good is like water” this is my favorite quote from Tao-Te-Ching and is also my belief of good morals. Thanks to Lao-tzu and his teaching. Without him, I would never comprehend the true meaning of life.