7 Lao Tzu Quotes That Will Change Your Life for the Better

As a lover of Eastern philosophy, I keep going back to Tao Te Ching (paperback | audiobook), one of the foundational texts of Taoism written by Lao Tzu. Each rereading leaves me with new insights on how to live a better, kinder life. And I find that the following seven Lao Tzu quotes distill these insights with equal parts clarity and eloquence. Let’s dive in.

1. “In Dealing with Others, Be Gentle and Kind.” — Lao Tzu

The highest good is like water.
Water gives life to the ten thousand things and does not strive.
It flows in places men reject and so is like the Tao.

In dwelling, be close to the land.
In meditation, go deep in the heart.
In dealing with others, be gentle and kind.
In speech, be true.
In ruling, be just.
In business, be competent.
In action, watch the timing.

No fight: No blame,

Related article: “How to Practice Lovingkindness Meditation

2. “Better Stop Short Than Fill to the Brim.” — Lao Tzu

Better stop short than fill to the brim.
Over-sharpen the blade, and the edge will soon blunt.
Amass a store of gold and jade, and no one can protect it.
Claim wealth and titles, and disaster will follow.
Retire when the work is done.
This is the way of heaven.

Related quote: “Modesty is the foundation of all virtues. Let your neighbors discover you before you make yourself known to them.” — Zengetsu

3. “Beautiful Words Are Not Truthful.” — Lao Tzu

Truthful words are not beautiful.
Beautiful words are not truthful.
Good men do not argue.
Those who argue are not good.
Those who know are not learned.
The learned do not know.

4. “Trouble Is Easily Overcome Before It Starts.” — Lao Tzu

Peace is easily maintained;
Trouble is easily overcome before it starts.
The brittle is easily shattered;
The small is easily scattered.

Deal with it before it happens.
Set things in order before there is confusion.

5. “He Who Knows When to Stop Does Not Find Himself in Trouble.” — Lao Tzu

He who is attached to things will suffer much.
He who saves will stiffer heavy loss.
A contented man is never disappointed.
He who knows when to stop does not find himself in trouble.
He will stay forever safe.

6. “People Usually Fail When They Are on the Verge of Success.” — Lao Tzu

People usually fail when they are on the verge of success.
So give as much care to the end as to the beginning;
Then there will be no failure.

7. “The Gentle and Yielding Is the Disciple of Life.” — Lao Tzu

A man is born gentle and weak.
At his death he is hard and stiff.
Green plants are tender and filled with sap.
At their death they are withered and dry.

Therefore the stiff and unbending is the disciple of death.
The gentle and yielding is the disciple of life.

Complement these inspirational quotes by Lao Tzu from Tao Te Ching (paperback | audiobook) with our article on how to practice lovingkindness meditation (with guided audio) and then revisit our article on the hidden meanings of yin-yang.

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