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Laozi Essay, Research Paper

Laozi created Daoism, a well-known Chinese philosophy, but very little is known about

his mysterious figure. It is said the he was born in the province of Henan in 570BCE

(Encarta). Before becoming a philosopher, he worked as a court librarian at the imperial

court. He also went by the name Lao-Tzu, which means “Old Master.” Very little is

known about Laozi’s early life, but he is credited with creating Daoism and writing the

“Daode Jing”, the most widely translated Chinese text. Laozi’s strong opinions and

eccentric beliefs would lead to the formation of Daoism.

Laozi overcame many obstacles before gaining followers. His wise council

attracted followers, but he refused to set his ideas down in writing. He believed that

written words might solidify into formal dogma (Internet 5). Laozi wanted his philosophy

to remain a natural way to live life with goodness, serenity and respect. At age 80 he set

out toward what is now Tibet, saddened and disillusioned that people were unwilling to

follow his path to natural goodness (Grolier). Legend says Laozi set off into the desert on

a water buffalo leaving civilization behind (Internet 5). When he arrived at the final gate

at the great wall protecting the kingdom, the gatekeeper persuaded him to record the

principles of his philosophy for posterity. The result was the “Daode Jing.” This ancient

Chinese classic was translated more than any other book ever; except for the Bible

(Internet 6). Laozi gained many followers after writing the “Daode Jing.”

Laozi saw past everyday worries to focus on the dao, or “the way” of the universe

as a whole (Ellis 91). The “Daode Jing” teaches that the dao is realized through

recognition and acceptance of nothingness. Laozi thought that by “doing nothing” one

could “accomplish everything.” He did not mean to literally do nothing, but to discern and

follow the natural forces (Internet 6). First and foremost to be spontaneous in ones

actions. He laid down no rigid code for behavior. He believed a person’s conduct should

be governed by instinct and conscience. Laozi believed that human life, like everything

else in the universe, is constantly influenced by outside forces. He believed simplicity to be

the key to truth and freedom. Laozi encouraged his followers to observe, and seek to

understand the laws of nature; to develop intuition and build up personal power; and to

use that power to lead life with love, and without force (Internet 5). Laozi’s teachings

allowed fellow Daoists to have interesting views on the natural world.

Laozi’s legacy will live on forever. His beliefs and opinions about the world as a

whole are like none others. Scholars continue to study his teachings and find out more

about this mysterious individual. Daoism will always remain one of the most interesting

philosophies.


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