Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Lao Zi 老子 - Founder of Taoism

Lao Zi had been revered as a deity in Taoist Temples as 太上老君 Heavenly Old Grand Master
Ancient paintings of Lao Zi leaving for Western Gate at the border, riding on water buffalo back

Lao Zi, 老子 (Year of birth est. 604BC during Zhou Dynasty周朝) had the given family name as Li Er , was the lesser known mystic philosopher and astrologer of ancient China as compared to Confucius. All the same, Lao Zi was one of the most distinguished and revered scholar and philosopher of great wisdom during those ancient years. It was widely recorded down the literary history of ancient China that contemporary Confucius constantly approached Lao Zi for consultation on matters regarding ceremonial rites. Lao Zi had been depicted in drawings and paintings as a balding old man with long flowing white beard riding on ox or water buffalo back as he moved about. Legendary variant versions of Lao Zi’s life told different tales of his age, ranging from 160 years to 990 years.

                                             An ancient painting of Lao Zi 
Stone carved sculpture of Lao Zi at QuanZhou, with the backdrop of QingYuan Mountain clearly seen at the rear. It is still in very good condition sitting there after close to a thousand year.

Lao Zi was well-known as the founder of Taoism, a practice of human rituals on culture (like birth, death and marriage), filial piety and day to day way of life to generations of Chinese people since two millenniums ago. He was revered to the status of a deity as 太上老君 (loosely translated as The Heavenly Grand Old Master of Wisdom) with Taoist temples built all over Asia where Chinese influence was strong and deeply rooted. Many Chinese, Koreans, Japanese and Vietnamese practice Taoism to this day. It seems that Taoism is a way of traditional life rather than being practiced as a religion as compared to Buddhism.  Just like monks of SongShan’s嵩山Shaolin Buddhist Monastery少林寺in Henan Province河南省 who founded the pugilistic Shaolin Quan, 少林 and Kung fu功夫, the Taoist priests of ancient China were exponents of Tai Chi Quan太極拳at China’s picturesque Wudan Shan 武当山where it was first originated.

The Symbol of TaiChi太極. It emphasizes the natural force of Ying and Yang陰& which form the principle of Dao
Zhang SanFeng 张三丰, (Est 1279-1386) a Taoist priest during Song Dynasty was known to be the originator of TaiChi.
Millions of Chinese practise TaiChi everyday for good health; the gentle movements release tension and reduce depression, with tranquility known as Qi entering and exiting the bodies.
                        Westerners are enthusiastic to practise TaiChi too

Don't get yourself mixed up with Yoga excercise and Tai Chi practice
To many Chinese youngsters, the ability to master Sholin Kungfu at Sholin Si 少林寺, SongShan is the pinnacle of their life.

Lao Zi was the Zhou court’s Imperial Keeper for the archives 守藏室之史.
It was documented that he became weary with the moral decay of the then society and also noted the decline of the kingdom he served, that he decided to leave for a hermit’s life via the western gate at the border. Riding high on an ox’s back, he stumbled upon a border guard named Yin Xi who recognized him. The later convinced Lao Zi to leave his legacy of wisdom before he left town. Eventually he did by writing a 5,000 worded Dao De Jing 道德經which became a holy book to his followers and disciples. They adhered to the teachings fervently till this day. Border guard Yin Xi was known to have become Lao Zi’s disciple and left with the venerable Old Master. Taoist followers believed generally that Lao Zi did not disappeared after penning Dao De Jing but rather had traveled extensively to spread the meaning of Dao (Tao).

The Holy Bibble of Taoism, The Dao De Jin or Tao Te Ching had been the legacy of Lao Zi's wisdom

Here are some short abridged lines of Dao De Jing that are thought provoking and worthy of our mental absorption and practices. Please read on:

Give a man a fish and you
feed him for a day. Teach
him how to fish and you
feed him for a lifetime.

To realize that you do not understand is a virtue;
Not to realize that you do not understand is a defect.

The key to growth is the
introduction of higher
dimensions of consciousness
into our awareness.

Man's enemies are not demons,
but human beings like himself.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
To know yet to think that one does not know is best;
Not to know yet to think that one knows will lead to difficulty

He who knows others is wise.
He who knows himself is enlightened.

He who knows that enough is
enough will always have enough.

He who obtains has little.
He who scatters has much.
The key to growth is the
introduction of higher
dimensions of consciousness
into our awareness.
Great acts are made up of
small deeds.

Treat those who are good
with goodness, and also
treat those who are not
good with goodness. Thus
goodness is attained. Be
honest to those who are
honest, and be also honest
to those who are not
honest. Thus honesty is

If you do not change
direction, you may end up
where you are heading.

The words of truth are always paradoxical.

Alan CY Kok


  1. Hi Alan

    A well-composed article with extensive research done prior to your posting on your blog. Good work always comes with great efforts and is aided by the interest generated on the works of the gone philosophers.

    As usual my efforts to post my comments failed repeatedly and so I send my comments in this email.

    As Dao De Jing - the 5000 words philosophy was a legacy left by Lao Zi, I will ask Alan if you have the chance to meet this sage again, what legacy will you ask from him?

    Jeremy Lim
    Nov 30th '11

  2. TQ friend.
    I tried to comment with my WordPress accout but failed.
    I have SHARED some of the above in my FB.
    Do you know that in Burmese language, we called Chinese as Tayokes which I think came from Taoism
    Best regards