Laozi was a mystic philosopher
Chinese philosophy
Chinese philosophy is philosophy written in the Chinese tradition of thought. The majority of traditional Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn and Warring States era, during a period known as the "Hundred Schools of Thought", which was characterized by significant intellectual and...

 of ancient
Ancient history
Ancient history is the study of the written past from the beginning of recorded human history to the Early Middle Ages. The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000 years, with Cuneiform script, the oldest discovered form of coherent writing, from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC...

Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, best known as the author of the Tao Te Ching
Tao Te Ching
The Tao Te Ching, Dao De Jing, or Daodejing , also simply referred to as the Laozi, whose authorship has been attributed to Laozi, is a Chinese classic text...

 (often simply referred to as Laozi). His association with the Tao Te Ching has led him to be traditionally considered the founder of Taoism
Taoism refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao , which is the mechanism of everything that exists...

 . He is also revered as a deity in most religious forms of Taoist philosophy, which often refers to Laozi as Taishang Laojun, or "One of the Three Pure Ones
Three Pure Ones
The Three Pure Ones also translated as the Three Pure Pellucid Ones, the Three Pristine Ones, the Three Divine Teachers, the Three Clarities, or the Three Purities is the Taoist Trinity, the three highest Gods in the Taoist pantheon. They are regarded as pure manifestation of the Tao and the...


Laozi is an honorific title.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

Ch. 7

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.

Ch. 11