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There are moments in life, as we are facing challenges or in need of guidance, when we look to words of wisdom from ancient masters. One of these wise masters is Lao Tzu. His words inspire and gently nudge us onto the path of enlightenment.
Lao Tzu was a writer and philosopher believed to have authored the Tao Te Ching (the Ancient Chinese classic text on Taoist teachings). He lived 2,500 years ago, and is considered one of the most influential figures in Chinese culture.
The passage of time has not dimmed the wisdom of Lao Tzu’s teachings. In this article, we’ve gathered 25 of the best Lao Tzu quotes to inspire you to greatness.
There are quotes that provide definition as to what true leadership is, quotes for those seeking enlightenment, wise sayings about love, and quotes that give inspiration in challenging times.
First off, let’s take a look at some of Lao Tzu’s quotes on leadership. His philosophy teaches us to be leaders who empower those we lead. For him, leadership flows from a place of love, not of fear.
Lao Tzu Quotes on Leadership
- “When you are content to be simply yourself and don't compare or compete, everyone will respect you.”
- “When the best leader's work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!’”
When the best leader's work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!’” – Lao Tzu
- “Accomplish but do not boast, accomplish without show, accomplish without arrogance, accomplish without grabbing, accomplish without forcing.”
- “The person of superior integrity does not insist upon his integrity. For this reason, he has integrity. The person of inferior integrity never loses sight of his integrity; for this reason, he lacks integrity.”
- “Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.”
- “Govern a great nation as you would cook a small fish. Do not overdo it.”
- “All streams flow to the sea because it is lower than they are. Humility gives it its power. If you want to govern the people, you must place yourself below them. If you want to lead the people, you must learn how to follow them.”
If we search for leaders by following Lao Tzu’s standards, we will look for someone who has the following qualities:
For many people, enlightenment seems like an unreachable ideal. Some assume that, in order to be enlightened, one has to undergo rigorous training, go on a retreat, or isolate themself from the rest of humanity.
However, enlightenment is not actually that complicated.
Lao Tzu’s words reveal that we become enlightened as we learn how to be.
The collection of quotes on enlightenment and self-awareness below shows how this process works.
Lao Tzu Quotes on Enlightenment and Self-Awareness
- “To a mind that is still the whole universe surrenders.”
- “The Way to do is to be.”
- “Those who flow as life flows know they need no other force.”
- “Without stirring abroad, One can know the whole world; Without looking out of the window One can see the way of heaven. The further one goes, the less one knows.”
- “Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.”
- “To realize that you do not understand is a virtue; not to realize that you do not understand is a defect.”
Lao Tzu’s concept of leadership also involves self-awareness. It is the realization of your own capabilities and limitations, beliefs and motivations, and even your emotions.
When we are self-aware, it becomes easier for us to develop self-love. Several research studies on self-love have shown that when we have compassion for ourselves, our health and well-being improve.
In addition, when we are able to truly love ourselves, we become genuinely loving towards others.
Lao Tzu’s words of wisdom about love suggest that he believed it is a powerful force. For him, love has the ability to give courage, reveal the truth, and provide protection.
Lao Tzu Quotes About Love
- “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
- “Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”
- “Love is a decision – not an emotion!”
“Love is a decision – not an emotion!”– Lao Tzu
- “Love is of all the passions the strongest, for it attacks simultaneously the head, the heart, and the senses.”
- “Surrender your self-interest. Love others as much as you love yourself. Then you can be entrusted with all things under heaven.”
- “He who defends with love will be secure; Heaven will save him, and protect him with love.”
The Tao Te Ching was written approximately 2,500 years ago, yet Lao Tzu’s messages never cease to inspire, even today. In fact, his words have become more relevant than ever in recent times.
May the following quotes inspire you to see the goodness and the potential in your life even as you face numerous challenges.
Inspiring Lao Tzu Quotes
- “At the center of your being
you have the answer;
you know who you are
and you know what you want.”
- “What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.”
“What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.” – Lao Tzu
- “I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.”
- “Your own positive future begins in this moment. All you have is right now. Every goal is possible from here.”
- “Great acts are made up of small deeds.”
- “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.”
Final Words on the Best Lao Tzu Quotes
As mentioned earlier, Lao Tzu’s words of wisdom may be 2,500 years old, but they still bring inspiration and lead us on the path to enlightenment.
Through his writings, he showed us how to be better leaders, develop self-awareness, believe in the life-changing effects of love, and attain enlightenment.
You might want to choose a favorite from among Lao Tzu’s quotes and let it serve as a personal mantra as you work toward achieving greatness in your life.
And if you want more inspirational quotes, be sure to check out these blog posts:
- 55 Bucket List Quotes to Inspire Your Next Adventure
- 43 Patience Quotes to Inspire You Through Difficult Challenges
- 55 Motivational Exercise Quotes to Inspire Your Next Workout
Finally, if you want to use these quotes to make a lasting change to your life, then watch this free video that details the 7-minute habit for planning your day to focus on what's truly important to you..