Laozi Quotes 27 Sourced Quotes

老子 Lǎozǐ (c. 6th-5th century BCE) was a Chinese monist philosopher; also called Lao Zi, Lao Tzu, Lao Tse, or Lao Tze. The Tao Te Ching (道德經, Pinyin: Dào Dé Jīng, or Dao De Jing) represents the sole document generally attributed to Laozi.

Here are 27 real Laozi quotes ordered by their popularity online. The most quoted quotes on the web appear first. Questionable and fake quotes are excluded. Sources and related information are shown after each quote. We hope you find these quotes useful. If there is anything we can do to improve this article, your feedback is welcome. If you find these quotes helpful, please share them.

1. “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”

—Laozi

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Laozi. “Laozi Quotes: 27 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/lao-tzu-quotes.html#1

Source: Ch. 33, as interpreted by Stephen Mitchell (1992)

2. “He who knows does not speak; he who speaks does not know.”

—Laozi

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Laozi. “Laozi Quotes: 27 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/lao-tzu-quotes.html#2

Source: Ch. 56

3. “He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.”

—Laozi

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Laozi. “Laozi Quotes: 27 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/lao-tzu-quotes.html#3

Source: Ch. 46

4. “By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond the winning.”

—Laozi

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Laozi. “Laozi Quotes: 27 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/lao-tzu-quotes.html#4

Source: Ch. 48, as translated by Raymond B. Blakney (1955)

5. “The more laws and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be.”

—Laozi

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Source: Ch. 57

6. “The tao that can be described is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be spoken is not the eternal Name. The nameless is the boundary of Heaven and Earth. The named is the mother of creation. Freed from desire, you can see the hidden mystery. By having desire, you can only see what is visibly real. Yet mystery and reality emerge from the same source. This source is called darkness. Darkness born from darkness. The beginning of all understanding.”

—Laozi

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Laozi. “Laozi Quotes: 27 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/lao-tzu-quotes.html#6

Source: Ch. 1, as translated by J.H.McDonald (1996) [Public domain translation]

7. “The Tao is like a well: used but never used up. It is like the eternal void: filled with infinite possibilities. It is hidden but always present. I don't know who gave birth to it. It is older than God.”

—Laozi

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Source: Ch. 4, as interpreted by Stephen Mitchell (1992)

8. “The Tao is called the Great Mother: empty yet inexhaustible, it gives birth to infinite worlds.”

—Laozi

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Source: Ch. 6, as interpreted by Stephen Mitchell (1992)

9. “To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.”

—Laozi

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Source: Ch. 48

10. “Governing a large country is like frying a small fish.”

—Laozi

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Source: Ch. 60.

11. “The Tao is like a bellows: it is empty yet infinitely capable. The more you use it, the more it produces; the more you talk of it, the less you understand.”

—Laozi

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Source: Ch. 5, as interpreted by Stephen Mitchell (1992)

12. “The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao; The name that can be named is not the eternal name. The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth. The named is the mother of ten thousand things. Ever desireless, one can see the mystery. Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations. These two spring from the same source but differ in name; this appears as darkness. Darkness within darkness. The gate to all mystery.”

—Laozi

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Laozi. “Laozi Quotes: 27 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/lao-tzu-quotes.html#12

Source: Ch. 1, Gia-Fu Feng & Jane English (1972)

13. “The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao The name that can be named is not the eternal Name. The unnameable is the eternally real. Naming is the origin of all particular things. Free from desire, you realize the mystery. Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations. Yet mystery and manifestations arise from the same source. This source is called darkness. Darkness within darkness. The gateway to all understanding.”

—Laozi

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Source: Ch. 1, as interpreted by Stephen Mitchell (1992)

14. “The Tao that can be expressed is not the eternal Tao; The name that can be defined is not the unchanging name. Non-existence is called the antecedent of heaven and earth; Existence is the mother of all things. From eternal non-existence, therefore, we serenely observe the mysterious beginning of the Universe; From eternal existence we clearly see the apparent distinctions. These two are the same in source and become different when manifested. This sameness is called profundity. Infinite profundity is the gate whence comes the beginning of all parts of the Universe.”

—Laozi

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Source and Related Info: Ch. 1, as translated by Ch'u Ta-Kao (1904)
• Also as Tao called Tao is not Tao.

15. “Since before time and space were, the Tao is. It is beyond is and is not. How do I know this is true? I look inside myself and see.”

—Laozi

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Source: Ch. 21, as interpreted by Stephen Mitchell (1992)

16. “'''A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arriving. A good artist lets his intuition lead him wherever it wants. A good scientist has freed himself of concepts and keeps his mind open to what is. Thus the Master is available to all people and doesn't reject anyone. He is ready to use all situations and doesn't waste anything. This is called embodying the light.”

—Laozi

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Source and Related Info: Ch. 27, as interpreted by Stephen Mitchell (1992)
• Variants:
• A good traveller has no fixed plan and is not intent on arriving.
 • As quoted in In Search of King Solomon's Mines‎ (2003) by Tahir Shah, p. 217
• A true traveller has no fixed plan, and is not intent on arriving.

17. “The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas. Tolerant like the sky, all-pervading like sunlight, firm like a mountain, supple like a tree in the wind, he has no destination in view and makes use of anything life happens to bring his way.”

—Laozi

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Source: Ch. 59 as interpreted by Stephen Mitchell (1992)

18. “When men lack a sense of awe, there will be disaster.”

—Laozi

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Source: Chapter 72, translated by Gia Fu Feng

19. “The way you can go isn't the real way. The name you can say isn't the real name. Heaven and earth begin in the unnamed: name's the mother of the ten thousand things. So the unwanting soul sees what's hidden, and the ever-wanting soul sees only what it wants. Two things, one origin, but different in name, whose identity is mystery. Mystery of all mysteries! The door to the hidden.”

—Laozi

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Source: Ch. 1, as interpreted by Ursula K. LeGuin (1998)

20. “The universe is deathless; Is deathless because, having no finite self, it stays infinite. A sound man by not advancing himself stays the further ahead of himself, By not confining himself to himself sustains himself outside himself: By never being an end in himself he endlessly becomes himself.”

—Laozi

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Source: Ch. 7

21. “Thirty spokes unite at the single hub; It is the empty space which makes the wheel useful. Mold clay to form a bowl; It is the empty space which makes the bowl useful. Cut out windows and doors; It is the empty space which makes the room useful.”

—Laozi

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Source: Ch. 11

22. “A leader is best when people barely know that he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worst when they despise him. Fail to honor people, They fail to honor you. But of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aims fulfilled, they will all say, ‘We did this ourselves.’”

—Laozi

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Source: Ch. 17

23. “Scholars of the highest class, when they hear about the Tao, take it and practice it earnestly. Scholars of the middle class, when they hear of it, take it half earnestly. Scholars of the lowest class, when they hear of it, laugh at it. Without the laughter, there would be no Tao.”

—Laozi

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Source: Ch. 41

24. “Wise men don't need to prove their point; men who need to prove their point aren't wise. The Master has no possessions. The more he does for others, the happier he is. The more he gives to others, the wealthier he is. The Tao nourishes by not forcing. By not dominating, the Master leads.”

—Laozi

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Source: Ch. 81 as interpreted by Stephen Mitchell (1992)

25. “There is a thing inherent and natural, Which existed before heaven and earth. Motionless and fathomless, It stands alone and never changes; It pervades everywhere and never becomes exhausted. It may be regarded as the Mother of the Universe. I do not know its name. If I am forced to give it a name, I call it Tao, and I name it as supreme.”

—Laozi

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Source: Ch. 25, as translated by Ch'u Ta-Kao (1904)

26. “Block the passages, shut the doors, And till the end your strength shall not fail. Open up the passages, increase your doings, And till your last day no help shall come to you.”

—Laozi

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Source: Ch. 52 as translated by Arther Walley (1934)

27. “千里之行始於足下。”

—Laozi

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Source and Related Info:  • A journey of a thousand li starts with a single step.
 • Ch. 64, line 12
• Variant translations:
• A journey of a thousand [miles] starts with a single step.
A journey of a thousand miles started with a first step.
• A thousand-mile journey starts from your feet down there.
 • As translated by Dr. Hilmar Klaus

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