Lao-Tse Biography

Lao-Tse, also known under the forms Lao Tzu, Laocio, Lao Zi or Laozi (Current Territory of China, c. 604 BC – ibid., c. 521 BC). A philosopher of Chinese origin who is credited with creating the flow of Tao thought, which is one of the most important philosophies of Chinese culture.

He is also credited with writing Tao Te King. He is considered one of the most important philosophers in China. Likewise, his philosophy is followed and practiced by millions of people in the world, which is why he is also listed as one of the most notable thinkers in history.

Early life

According to former sources, Lao-Tse must have been born in what is now Chinese territory, approximately in the sixth century BC, more accurately in 604 BC, although other researchers point out that its birth may have taken place around the fourth century before of Christ.

Despite this historical debate, the lack of evidence and the lack of data, unlike the accuracy with which the life and work of other important figures of this culture has been transmitted orally, has led some to question whether it actually existed , because almost nothing is known about his life.

The first references to Lao-Tse that historians have been able to trace date from ancient oral legends. As for the bibliographic findings, the oldest references are contained in a work by Zhuangzi, as well as in the book Historical Memoirs of Sima Qian, written in the 1st century BC.

According to tradition, culturally more culturally accepted, Lao-Tse was born in a village in Henan province, under a plum tree, which is why it was christened by its real name Li-Er, which can be translated as “plum ears”.

However, other legends have to point out its fish origin, giving it the name Po Yang-Li. Likewise, there are legends that speak of the mythical character of his gestation, claiming that his mother carried him in the womb for eighty-one years (exactly the same number of chapters that make up the Tao Te King) until he managed to give birth, bringing to the world Lao-Tse , who was born wrinkled and with white hair, being already an old man.

Life in Zhou

According to the biography collected in his work by Sima Qian, which has been incorporated over time into the cultural tradition, Lao-Tse was contemporary of Confucius, which would place his life during the time of the Combatant Kingdoms.

Sima Qian places Lao-Tse as an archivist of the Imperial Library during the Zhou dynasty. Likewise, some specialists have come to erect the thesis that the form “Lao-Tse” could be a pseudonym used by Ti Shi Don, who served as Prefect of the Great Writers. Others instead associate his name with that of a wise elder, belonging to a Prefecture of Qi state, called Lai.

Following sima Qian’s biography, this former Chinese author narrates a meeting between Lao-Tse and Confucius, which occurred in Zhou, which led to an argument between the two sages about the Confucian rituals, which were considered by Confucius as pillars of the ideal society, while for Lao-Tse, according to this author, constituted vain practices.

According to tradition, the discussion between Lao-Tse and Confucius spanned months, making it highly productive for Confucius. However, some historians and researchers have pointed out that history is probably an invention made by Tao followers, in order to attribute a certain superiority of Taoism over Confusionism.

Final years

The date and circumstances of his death are also unknown. Legend has it that at some point Lao-Tse decided to relinquish his post at the Library and leave Zhou, perhaps due to the decline of the ruling dynasty. Lao-Tse then set out on a journey west, on a buffalo of water, in order to leave forever.

When he arrived at Shanggu Pass, the last gate of the great wall, the guardian recognized him and asked him to stay another year. Lao-Tse accepted, and devoted the next year of his life to writing his teachings, which he collected in the eighties and a chapter starred in by tao Te King. After finishing his writing and the expected time, Lao-Tse crossed the wall and entered the country of the barbarians, never to be seen again.

Taoist Philosophy

Through allegories that compare the lives of men with natural phenomena, Lao-Tse addresses in his philosophical work, the Tao Te King, numerous existential themes ranging from human nature to precepts that make for good governance.

Basically, the Tao, which can be translated as “path”, raises the need not to oppose the harmonious fluidity of nature, through desires and will. He also pointed out that laws and rules hinder man’s path to happiness, complicating the management of society and curbing the freedom of the people.

For Lao-Tse, man was to analyze the workings of nature, in order to understand the laws by which his own existence was governed, which flows based on the natural order by which the entire cosmos is governed, which has evolved entirely from the Tao that which , abstract and complementary, contains ying and yang, vital forces, which make up the whole.

Likewise, Lao-Tse proposes the law of cause and effect, where everything in the universe would be given by causality and not by chance, thus laying one of the fundamental bases of this Eastern philosophy, which points to an existence in constant balance, harmony and freedom.

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Lao-Tse Biography
Source: Education  
July 31, 2019

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