Laozi and the Daodejing
Cosmology, Self-Cultivation & Sociopolitical Applications
Laozi Instructing Confucius on the Zhou Rites
Laozi Instructing Confucius on the Zhou Rites
 
Laozi riding an ox
The Old Master
Chinese characters for "Daodejing"The figure of Laozi (Master Lao or Old Master) looms large in Daoist history, as he is often regarded as the tradition’s founder. According to legend, his name was Lao Dan and he worked as an archivist during the Zhou dynasty (presumably active during the sixth century [BCE]). Little is known about his life, and some scholars have questioned the historicity of Laozi as an actual person. He is best known as the putative author of the famous text that bears his name, Laozi, although later a deified form of him also became an important part of the Daoist pantheon. ... Laozi’s book is also known by the alternative title of Classic of the Way and its Power (Daode jing), from the opening Chinese characters of its two main parts: Way (Dao) and power (de, also possible to translate as “charisma” or “virtue”).
       Aside from the traditional legend about Laozi’s authorship, we have no definitive knowledge about the text’s early provenance. The standard edition in use today was put together during the third century CE, although recent archeological discoveries of early bamboo and silk manuscripts indicate that the text already existed by the fourth or third century BCE. It seems probably that Laozi is a collection of aphorisms and poetic reflections that represent the ideas of various thinkers that lived at different times. Initially these materials might have been transmitted orally, and they were put together into a coherent form at a later stage of the text’s literary evolution. (Introducing Chinese Religions, 63-64)
 
Opening lines of Daodejing, Chapter 1 under the "Gateless Gate"
Scroll with chapter one of the Daodejing (click for link)
Colorful Taiji (yin yang symbol)
 
Daoist meditating
 
Scroll with Daodejing, Chapter 56 (click for link)
Taiji (yin-yang) symbol with Heaven and Earth
 
Scroll with Daodejing, Chapter 10 (click for link)
Colorful Taiji (yin yang symbol)
 
Chinese characters for "non-action" (wuwei)
Scroll with Daodejing, Chapter 48 (click for link)
 
Uncarved Wood
Scroll with Daodejing, Chapter 37 (click for link)
 
Empty Mind, Full Body
Scroll with Daodejing, Chapter 3 (click for link)
Taiji (yin-yang) symbol with Heaven and Earth
 
"Primitivit" Daoism: portrait of Shennong (the Divine Farmer)
 
Scroll with Daodejing, Chapter 80 (click for link)
Cartoon image of Laozi