Lao Tzu

Lao-tzu aphorisms

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The trouble of the world comes from little things, as a great deed comes from little things.

Unlimited virtue is like its deficiency; the spreading of virtue is like its plundering.

Be mindful of your thoughts; they are the beginning of actions.

A great man holds fast to the essential and leaves the insignificant behind.

He does everything according to the truth, but he will never rely on laws.

Temperance is the first stage of virtue, which is the beginning of moral perfection.

Everything in the world grows and blossoms and returns to its root.

To return to one's root means to rest in harmony with nature.

Consistent with nature means eternal; therefore, the destruction of the body contains no danger.

The worthy husband always tries to be unprincipled, not to attach value to things that are hard to get and not to listen to fruitless doctrine.

The worthy husband does much, but does not boast of what he has done; he accomplishes merit, but does not acknowledge it, because he is unwilling to discover his wisdom.

The worthy husband wears thin clothes, but has a jewel in himself.

If a thing is not fit for one purpose, it can be used for another.

The law of the worthy is to do good and not to quarrel. To know much and not to expose oneself as knowledgeable is moral beauty.

To know little and to expose oneself as knowledgeable is a disease. Only by understanding this disease can we get rid of it. He who knows people is reasonable, and he who knows himself is insightful.

He who knows the measure is satisfied with his situation.

The truly enlightened man never fights.

When all men know that what is good is good, evil arises.

When you are prosperous, consider what to do in time of trouble, for great trouble begins with little trouble.

When there are no enemies, there is no war.

When true virtue is lost, there is virtue; when virtue is lost, there is justice; when justice is lost, there is decency. The rules of decency are only a semblance of truth and the beginning of all disorder.

He who wages war for the sake of humanity will defeat his enemies.

He who pretends to know much and to be able to do everything, knows nothing and is able to do nothing.

He who thinks he knows everything knows nothing.

He who talks a lot, often fails.

He who is brave without knowing humanity, he who is generous without knowing frugality, he who goes forward without knowing humility will perish.

He who, knowing the limits of his activity, will not approach danger, he will live long.

He who, knowing much, keeps himself as one who knows nothing, is a moral man.

He who, when he undertakes a thing, hastens to achieve a result, will do nothing. He who is careful to finish his work as he began it will not fail.

An agreement easily reached is not trustworthy.

People of the highest morality do not consider themselves moral; therefore, they have the highest morality.

The wise man avoids all extremes.

The wise man does not expose himself, therefore he is brilliant; he does not speak of himself, therefore he is glorious; he does not glorify himself, therefore he is deserving; he does not exalt himself, therefore he is senior among others.

He who does not quarrel is not condemned.

There is no calamity heavier than ignorance of satisfaction.

No calamity is harder than despising one's enemies.

There is no greater misery than not knowing the limits of one's power.

There is no sin heavier than passion.

There is nothing like the teaching without words and the impact of non-action.

O unhappiness! It is the pillar of happiness. O happiness! In it lies unhappiness. Who knows their limits? They have no constancy.

He who overcomes others is strong, and he who overcomes himself is mighty.

Loss is the beginning of multiplication, plenty is the beginning of loss.

Honor and shame from the strong of the world (for the wise man) are equally strange.

An excellent warrior is never angry.

The reason it is difficult to govern a people is because the people are enlightened and there are many clever ones.

Where great wise men have power, the subjects do not notice their existence. Where lesser wise men rule, the people become attached to them and praise them. Where even lesser sages rule, the people fear them, and where even lesser ones rule, the people despise them.

He who neglects his life, thereby values his life.

The clever are not learned; the learned are not clever.

A good army is a means that generates misfortune.

A good man is the teacher of a bad man; a bad man is the material of a good man. He who disrespects his teacher and dislikes the material on which he is working, even though he is very clever, is wrong.

Although there is no object in the world that is weaker and gentler than water, it can destroy the hardest object.

Though war may aim at tranquility, it is undoubtedly evil.

I have great misfortune because I cherish myself. When I do not value myself, then I will have no unhappiness.



Lao Tzu