(born about B.C. 570)
I would say that it is Lao Zi’s book of Tao one of the profoundest books in the world’s philosophy.
The message of the book is simple and its dozen ideas are repeated in epigrammatic form again and again.
Briefly the ideas are: the rhythm of life, the unity of all world and human phenomena, the importance of keeping the original simplicity of human nature, the danger of over government and interference with simple life of the people, the doctrine of wu-wei or ,,inaction”.
Some of the paradoxes in this book are:
”Never be the first in the world”
”The greatest cleverness appears like stupidity; the greatest eloquence seems like stuttering”
”The farther one pursues knowledge, the less one knows”
”When two equally matched armies meet, it is the man of sorrow who wins”
”Even in victory, there is no beauty, and he who calls it beautiful delights in slaughter”
”A victory should be celebrated with the Funeral Rite”
”For love is victorious in attack and invulnerable in defense. Heaven arms with love those it would not see destroyed”
”He who knows does not speak, and he who speaks does not know”
”Rule a big country as you would fry small fish”
The book of Tao
The Tao that can be told of
Is not the Absolute Tao;
The Names that can be given
Are not Absolute Names.
The Nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth;
The Named is the Mother of All Things.
Therefore, oftentimes, one strips oneself of passion
In order to see the Secret of Life;
Oftentimes, one regards life with passion,
In order to see its manifest results.
These two ( The Secret and its manifestations)
Are (in their nature) the same;
They are given different names
When they become manifest.
They may both be called the Cosmic Mystery:
Reaching from the Mystery into the Deeper Mystery
Is the gate to the Secret of All Life.
When the people of the Earth all know beauty as beauty,
There arises (the recognition of) ugliness.
When the people of the Earth all know the good as good,
There arises (the recognition of) evil.
Therefore, being and non-being interdepend in growth;
Easy and difficult interdepend in completion;
Long and short interdepend in contrast;
High and low interdepend in position;
Tones and voice interdepend in harmony;
Front and behind interdepend in company.
Therefore the Sage, manages the affairs without action;
Preaches the doctrine without words;
All things take their rise, but he does not turn away from them;
He gives them life, but does not take possession of them;
He acts, but does not appropriate;
Accomplishes, but claims no credit.
It is because he lays claim to no credit
That the credit cannot be taken away from him.
Exalt not the wise,
So that the people shall not scheme and contend;
Prize not rare objects,
So that the people shall not steal;
Shut out from sight the things of desire,
So that the people’s heart shall not be disturbed.
Therefore in the government of the Sage:
He keeps empty their hearts
Makes full their bellies,
Discourages their ambitions,
Strengthens their bones;
So that the people may be purified of their thoughts and desires.
And the cunning ones shall not presume to interfere.
By action without deeds
May all live in peace.