Wise Words of the Father of Taoism: 45 Thought-Provoking Lao Tzu Quotes

Whenever I look for wise sayings on guidance in life, I always come across countless Lao Tzu quotes.

Lao Tzu, also known as Laozi, was a Chinese philosophical thinker and founder of Taoism who supposedly lived in the sixth century BCE. Fabled or not, he remains a highly revered figure in this Chinese religion.

Lao Tzu’s teachings revolve around three virtues or treasures — compassion, frugality, and humility. According to Taoism, a True Person is compassionate and shows love and kindness toward all living beings. They are also modest and sparing, demonstrating the simplicity of desire and contentment with what they have. Lastly, they do not strive to be ahead of others and are humble in all their dealings.

If you want to learn more about the central Taoist virtues, delve into the wise words of the Old Master himself.

Lao Tzu Quotes That Instruct on Being Satisfied With Your Lot

#1. “There is no greater offense than harboring desires. There is no greater disaster than discontent. There is no greater misfortune than wanting more.”

#2. “He who is contented is rich.”

#3. “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.”

#4. “Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend. Non-being is the greatest joy.”

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

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

#7. “If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never be truly fulfilled.”

The Most Profound Lao Tzu Quotes on Leadership

#8. “The best of all leaders is the one who helps people so that eventually they don’t need him.”

#9. “If you want to govern people, you must place yourself below them. If you want to lead people, you must learn how to follow them.”

#10. “The best leader is one that the people are barely aware of. The next best is one who is loved and praised by the people. Next comes one who is feared. The worst is one who is despised. If the leader does not have enough faith in his people, they will not have faith in him. The best leader puts great value in words and says little so that when his work is finished, the people all say, ‘We did it ourselves!’”

#11. “Be the chief, but never the lord.”

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

Lao Tzu Quotes on the Value of Love

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

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

#15. “Surrender your self-interest. Love others as much as you love yourself.”

#16. “Love is a decision, not an emotion.”

#17. “Bearing and nurturing; creating but not owning; giving without demanding; controlling without authority; that is love.”

Lao Tzu Quotes That Guide on Being Patient and Letting Life Take Its Course

#18. “Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?”

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

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

#21. “All streams flow to the sea because it is lower than they are. Humility gives it its power.”

#22. “Act without expectation.”

#23. “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.”

#24. “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 Quotes That Show That Knowing Yourself Helps You Find Serenity

#25. “If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.”

#26. “Knowing others is wisdom; knowing yourself is enlightenment.”

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

#28. “Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.”

#29. “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.”

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

#31. “One cannot reflect in streaming water. Only those who know internal peace can give it to others.”

Miscellaneous Lao Tzu Quotes to Ponder On

#32. “In dwelling, be close to the land. In meditation, go deep in the heart. In dealing with others, be gentle and kind. In speech, be true. In ruling, be just. In business, be competent. In action, watch the timing.”

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

#34. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

#35. “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

#36. “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. When the student is truly ready, the teacher will disappear.”

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

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

#39. “New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.”

#40. “Stop thinking and end your problems.”

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

#42. “Do not look only at yourself, and you will see much. Do not justify yourself, and you will be distinguished. Do not brag, and you will have merit. Do not be prideful, and your work will endure.”

#43. “The True Person benefits yet expects no reward, does the work, and moves on. There is no desire to be considered better than others.”

#44. “Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment.”

#45. “Great acts are made up of small deeds.”

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, my collection of insightful Lao Tzu quotes has demonstrated what an extraordinary figure he was. I cherish reading his instructive teachings because I find that they help me recenter, realize where my place in the universe is, and what I can best focus my actions on. With luck, these quotes have made you reflect on what is relevant in life and have inspired you to be the best version of yourself.