The Tao Te Ching

The book of the way

400 BCE Lao Tzu | 2016 Sam Torode and Dwight Goddard

5 Stars
Photo by Matt Paul Catalano

2500 year old wisdom

14 January 2022

This is ancient philosophy at its best. The Tao Te Ching is not only thought-provoking but also fun to read. Gentle and fascinating words travel by when you slowly visit the passages one by one, each sentence more pleasant than the other. A tip: if you're on a long road trip, listen to this in the background: Tao Te Ching - Read by Wayne Dyer.

It may be strange, but reading or listening to the Tao Te Ching provokes a profound emotion within me.

This book is a gem, a real gem.


  • Paperback:‎ 86 pages
  • E-book: 90 pages
  • ISBN-10:‎ 1690029994
  • ISBN-13:‎ 978-1690029991

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The Tao Te Ching is an ancient Chinese text attributed to Lao Tzu, a philosopher and the founder of Taoism. The book, consisting of 81 poetic verses, offers wisdom, guidance, and insights on living a balanced and harmonious life. As the title implies, the two main concepts are "Tao" (The Way) and "Te" (Virtue), which serve as the cornerstone of Taoist philosophy.

By practicing principles such as non-action, humility, simplicity, and adaptability, we can achieve a balanced and harmonious life. The Tao Te Ching not only serves as a cornerstone of Taoist philosophy but also as a source of inspiration and guidance for anyone seeking personal growth, inner peace, and a deeper understanding of the world around them.

This is a timeless work that explores the interconnectedness of all things, the art of living in harmony with the natural world, and the cultivation of a humble, flexible, and selfless attitude. Aligning oneself with the Tao can bring harmony, peace, and balance to one's life.

Important learnings and insights

  1. Embrace the Tao
    To live a balanced and harmonious life, we must align ourselves with the Tao and seek to understand the natural order of the universe. This requires being open to the wisdom of the Tao and observing its influence in our daily lives.
  2. Cultivate inner virtues
    Personal growth and development are essential aspects of the Taoist philosophy. Focusing on cultivating inner virtues like humility, compassion, and self-discipline can lead to a more fulfilled and meaningful life.
  3. Practice non-action (Wu Wei)
    The concept of Wu Wei, or non-action, involves acting in harmony with the natural flow of events, rather than imposing our will or desires on the world. By practicing Wu Wei, we can achieve our goals with minimal effort and experience greater peace of mind.
  4. Embrace simplicity
    The Tao Te Ching encourages us to embrace simplicity and live with minimal material possessions. A simple and contented life allows for a greater focus on our spiritual well-being and connection to the Tao.
  5. Be adaptable
    Like water, which takes the shape of its container, we should be adaptable and flexible in our approach to life. Embracing change and adapting to new situations allows us to maintain our balance and harmony with the Tao.
  6. Humble leadership
    The book emphasizes that effective leadership is rooted in humility, compassion, and empathy. By putting the needs of others first, leaders can inspire trust and loyalty, and cultivate an environment where people can grow and thrive.
  7. Balance Yin and Yang
    The Tao Te Ching teaches that the balance of Yin (feminine, passive) and Yang (masculine, active) energies is crucial to maintaining harmony in our lives. Recognizing and nurturing both aspects of ourselves can lead to a more balanced and fulfilling existence.
  8. Cherish the present moment
    The Tao Te Ching encourages us to be fully present in each moment, rather than being consumed by thoughts of the past or future. By living mindfully and appreciating the present, we can experience a deeper connection to the Tao and live more meaningful lives.

24 significant notes

View these notes on Goodreads

  • 4%Value virtue over wealth, and the people’s hearts will be at rest. Wise rulers do not accumulate treasures, but seek to quiet the hearts of their people. They soothe the people’s appetites and strengthen their bones. They treasure innocence, and protect the simple from the schemes of the clever. When a ruler practices restraint, everything will be in peace.
  • 9%They are not focused on outcomes or achievements; therefore they always succeed.
  • 9%True goodness is like water; it nurtures everything and harms nothing. Like water, it ever seeks the lowest place, the place that all others avoid. This is the way of the Tao.
  • 13%Matter is necessary to give form, but the value of reality lies in its immateriality. Everything that lives has a physical body, but the value of a life is measured by the soul.
  • 14%the pursuit of great riches leads to ruin. The wise attend to the inner truth of things and are not fooled by outward appearances. They ignore matter and seek the spirit.
  • 21%when great rulers lead, the people are hardly aware of their existence.
  • 23%Here are the four fundamentals of true spirituality: recognize simplicity, cherish purity, reduce your possessions, diminish your desires.
  • 28%They who act in the spirit of the Tao become Tao-like. They who follow the Tao, the Tao will guide. They who pursue virtue, virtue will reward. They who live by violence, violence will soon destroy.
  • 55%There is no sin greater than desire. There is no misfortune greater than discontent. There is no calamity greater than greed. To know the Tao is to know contentment.
  • 56%The wise explore without traveling, discern without seeing, finish without striving, and arrive at their destination without leaving home.
  • 62%To recognize your insignificance is empowering. To show sympathy is strength. Those who follow the Tao’s light arrive at enlightenment.
  • 67%The wise shut their mouths and watch their actions.
  • 71%Acquiring moderation results in accumulating virtue. By accumulating virtue, nothing is impossible. If nothing is impossible, one knows no limits.
  • 76%Respond to hatred with kindness. Resolve difficulties while they are easy, and manage great things while they are small.
  • 78%The wise do not desire what they do not possess. They learn to be unlearned; they attend to that which others ignore. In that spirit, they help things grow, without interfering.
  • 79%Clever people are difficult to govern. And so, governing people with cleverness is a mistake, while governing with simplicity is a blessing to all.
  • 80%Wise rulers, desiring to lead the people, humble themselves and stay below them; wishing to help the people, they stay out of the way.
  • 82%If you are compassionate, you can be truly courageous; if you are economical, you can be truly generous; if you are humble, you can be truly helpful.
  • 83%Bring out the best in yourself, and you will bring out the best in others. This is following the Tao.
  • 87%The wise, while valuing themselves, do not overestimate themselves. They reject flattery and gain true merit.
  • 88%Reckless courage leads to death. Cautious courage leads to life. These two things, courage and caution, must be balanced.
  • 90%Oppressive measures never achieve their intended results.
  • 93%Nothing is gentler than water, yet nothing can withstand its force. Likewise, nothing compares to the Tao. By it the weak defeat the strong; and the flexible conquer the rigid.
  • 97%True words are often unpleasant; pleasant words are often untrue. Those who know the truth do not argue about it; those who argue do not know the truth.