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Confucius and Lao Tzu were to China what Socrates and Plato were to Greece and Buddha was to India roughly in the 6th century B.C. It is difficult to trace the life history of Lao Tzu (570-490 BC). Lao Tzu is a mystifying sage when the continuing uncertainties pertaining to his actual existence, the era of his existence and the intrinsic worth that the numinous Taoists gifted him with are put into perspective. Even historian Ssu'ma Ch'ien, who was perching up Lao Tzu's his chronological Records in approximately 100 BCE, had no exact details in regards to the biography of the celebrated Chinese philosopher. There are a number of legends concerning him. Some people believe that Lao Tzu never lived at all even as historians point to a number of likely historical identities for the philosopher. Despite the lack of precise information, the legends offer the sage an appealing, human look. Most of them place him in Luoyang, the antique Chinese capital centre.
The mystical philosopher whose name Lao Tzu literally translates to "old master", is also at times called Lao Tan or Li Er. As can be rightly pointed out, even the identity (by name) that the Chinese philosopher assumed was in doubt. The last two, Er and Tan; these translate to "ears" and "long ears" in that order, are associated with long life and knowledge. The wise old men are characterized with long years. The name Lao Tzu represents the old or revered wise man.
Lao Tzu was a sage philosopher of antique China. He is renowned as the writer of the Tao Te Ching. His connection to the Tao Te Ching has made him be conventionally believed to be the initiator of Taoism (or "Daoism"). He is also respected as a divinity in the majority of the religious varieties of the Taoist movement, which frequently refers to Lao Tzu as Taishang Laojun translating into "One of the Three Pure Ones". Lao Tzu in English literally means "old master" or "old one", and is honorific. Various historians assert that Lao Tzu is an amalgamation of numerous historical personalities, or that he is a mythological sage philosopher, or that he in reality existed in the 4th century BC (1). He is such a revered personality in the Chinese culture that both upper class and ordinary folks allege that Lao Tzu is from their ancestry.
Popular legends have it that Lao Tzu was born in Ku region of the state of Ch%u01D4, present day Lùyì County of Henan province. According to a number of myths, he was born with white hair after spending eight or eighty years in the womb. This is the reason he was given the title "the old master" and "the old child". Accounts from traditional tales and the biography incorporated in Sima Qian's work, Lao Zi was an older present-day Confucius and worked in the royal library of the Zhou Empire court as an archivist. Confucius purposely or by chance met him in Zhou, close to the site of present day Luoyang, when Confucius was going to look through the scrolls in the library. These accounts posit that, Confucius, over the subsequent months, engaged Lao Tzu concerning ritual and modesty, the foundations of Confucianism. Lao Tzu was against what he termed as empty practices. Taoist fables allege that these discourses with Tao Tzu ended up being more enlightening for Confucius than the scrolls of the libraries (Chan).
Later on, Lao Tzu quit from his position at the royal library because the power of Zhou's court was waning (Chan). According to two legends, Tao Tzu moved west riding his water buffalo through Qin where he vanished into the expansive wastelands. There is an account that has a guard at the western-most entrance persuading Lao Tzu to put in writing his acumen before vanishing into the wilderness; this will be explored later in the paper. Until this time, as was known, Lao Tzu had shared his philosophy verbally only, like Socrates, the Buddha, Jesus and Confucius whose teachings were probably written by his students. Lao Tzu rejoinder to the guard request was the Tao Tzu works.
During Confucius, the esteemed philosopher who is thought to be a Lao Tzus' contemporary, debate with Lao Tzu, Lao Tzu famously told the former, later to be prominent philosopher and moralist, to rid himself of his proud arrogance and many desires, his contented manner and too much ambition. He went on to tell him that these would not do him, any good. After this well-known interview, with the wise old man, the then youthful Confucius commented to his students, "I don't know how dragons can ride upon the wind and clouds and soar to high heaven. I saw Lao Tzu today. He can be likened to a dragon" (Moeller 38). Lao Tzu lived a modest and humble meditative life. In his life, he learned how to put into practice how he made out to be "the Way "or the Tao in Chinese. During his lifetime, according to John Selby, he walked his walk but did not talk any talk as much.
According to DeAngelis, Delany, and Frisina, Lao Tzu can be considered as an unforgettable inspiration (54). His wisdoms establish a positive encouragement for the direction of the human spirit to nirvana. Lao Tzu lived an extended, quiet and reflective life and then disappeared from the human race leaving a cohesive package of inspirational insight in magnificent poetry. He was not precisely a loner or anchorite; he merely loved the meditative life. He desired to live in anonymity in the quiet and calm of the library. He devoted himself to higher calling and his personal culture alongside the search for the truth, and for that reason, his life was peaceful spontaneous and naturally easy.
Lao Tzu penned his single book shortly prior to his walking away from the Chou kingdom he worked for. On one day, Lao Tzu made up his mind to walk away from the city and just took a walk towards the far away mountain gate. When he arrived at the exit that led out of the Chou kingdom, it is said that the guard, a man called Yin Hsi, at the pass halted him and asked him to write some words of wisdom for the kingdom before he leaves the world. He obviously agreed and before walking out and disappearing from the kingdom and to probably another he left with he left with the guard a slim assemblage of eighty one brief poems and thoughts, entailing a total of approximately five thousand words.
Lao Tzu's most celebrated work, the Tao Te Ching, has been extensively powerful in China. The book is a spiritual exposition that covers various fields of philosophy; from personal spirituality to methods for leading people. In reference to this work, it is possible to draw an insight into the mind of Lao Tzu. Lao Tzu placed emphasis to a particular "Tao", or "the Way," and broadened its sense to an unnameable intrinsic order or way of the cosmos i.e. "The way Nature is." Lao Tzu presented a philosophy that was diametrically different from western philosophy. "Love thy neighbour", in many forms, is a Christian dictum to be followed after the self-iniquities have been acknowledged and pardoned. Western views always separate the self and the immediate world. That separation is opposing to Lao Tzu teachings where it is more valuable to everything to "become one", instead of "be one".
Becoming one necessitates reverence playing a crucial part in growing and upholding all relations, of profoundly appreciative of the other and allowing it to define you. According to his Tao teachings, all things and happenings form one vital part of the total that is cosmos. According to Tao Tzu, forming a personality that respects all things, and happenings that make up the cosmos, allows for the attainment of a more filled life. One can think of it having fun with life to allow life to have fun with them. Tang Junyi voiced these ideas by Tao Tzu a bit more philosophically when he advocated for the pledge of the individual to do its best to attain the totality. Tao Tzu argues that such a personality sets the right conditions for all the happenings in the environment.
He underlined the notion of wei-wu-wei, translating to "action through inaction." Contrary to the surface meaning of the expression, it does not means that a person should just do nothing. Rather, it means a person should shun categorically show intents, strong resolve, and active action so that the person can attain genuine effectiveness by going with the flow depending on whether the things increase or decrease. Deeds carried out in agreement with Tao i.e. nature are easier and more useful than dynamically struggling to counter Tao. Lao Tzu held that violence ought to be shunned when it is possible. Military triumph was a chance to lament the inevitability of using violence against another human being or any living thing, and not an event to celebrate victory. Lao Tzu also held that organized laws and rules lead to the society turning out to be extra hard to lead and manage.
Lao Tzu is conventionally considered as the founder of Daoism. Daoism started as a blend of philosophy and psychology. It evolved into a religious faith in about A.D. 440. Lao Tzu became established, as its a deity. The religion is presently practiced in Taiwan, and their teachings are the philosophy of Tao. According to Tao Tzu, heavens do not act out of benevolence but rather they deal with all things equally (Lao). Concerning leadership, Tao Tzu held that the leader is best when several conditions are met. He listed several of these conditions. For him, a leader is best when those he is leading are barely conscious of his presence. For Tao Tzu, a leader is bad when his people applause his leadership. The leader is even less good when his people fear him and at worst when people are scornful of his leadership. He advises that when a leader, or just anyone else, fails to honour individuals, they also fail to honour him or her. He postulates that the good leader speaks less and that when their work is complete, their ambition is achieved, the society will say they did themselves.
He advises leaders to be sensible, and libel to shun placing themselves ahead of others. The leader should lead by refining people's minds, satisfying their stomachs, fading their desires, and empowering them. For him, the ideal leader does not do anything; however, he leaves nothing undone. The Taoists resist control by the government since it is excessively rational (Long 3). Tao held that attempting to enforce planning on the public and forcing unity on one's own reflections are similarly bad (Long 3). Lao Tzu held that if social organizations derailed an individual's progress and his joy, then those organizations should be condensed or done away with overall. (Rothbard 45)
In conclusion, just like the majority of other antique Chinese philosophers, Lao Tzu his method of explaining his thoughts frequently used paradox, symmetry, comparison, use of early sayings, repetition, assonance, and rhythm. The written accredited to Lao Tzu are poetical, compact and frequently vague. They functioned as an opening point for cosmological or reflective introspections. Many of the artistic philosophies of Chinese art are extensively based on his ideas and those of his most celebrated disciple, Chuang Tzu (Yu 182). Tao Tzu, even though not revered and influential as much as Confucius in China, the Chinese still extensively esteem him, and his ideas are deliberated in numerous places globally.