Biography of Messiahs and Prophets Lao-Tzu Part 1

About the famous religious figure Lao-Tzu, history and biography of the Chinese leader.


LAO-TZU (c. 604-531 B.C.)

The place: northern China. The time: over five centuries before Christ. It is dusk. Down the dusty road that leads from Loyang a water buffalo ambles, carrying on its back the slender figure of a white-haired man. His shoulders are hunched forward from years spent bent over scrolls as keeper of the emperor's library. He has concluded that the greatest truth does not reside in books or words but in nature, and now he seeks out that truth, turning his back upon civilization.

He longed to live a simple life free of the shallowness of society. He had seen how man used man, how poor peasants were taxed heavily while rich landlords led glittering but empty lives. He had seen how people coveted material rewards, in return surrendering peace of mind. In such a world how could there be any happiness?

In the archives he tended, he had read the long annals of human folly and indifference, and had often fled the cloistered walls of the library to wander in the countryside, spending hours watching the golden sunset and the pale moon climbing over the pines. Most of all he had listened to the wordless counsel of water. How silent it was. It did not need to speak; instead it simply "was." How pure in its simplicity, how clear; it did not aspire to dominate but willingly submitted itself to providing life. Yet he also saw how strong a thing water was, how by gentle persistence it could wear away the hardest stone. Was this then not the way to live, with purity and simplicity? To be open, humble, and compassionate?

Once the world had been a simpler and better place. Man had lived in harmony with the tao (pronounced dow and meaning "the way"), the rhythmic source of all life, seen in the living cycle of the seasons. Through his life the te (pronounced day), the creative energy of the tao that animates all living things, had spoken. If man could only feel the tao once again; if only he could be free to be himself, to let the te flow through him. It was not nature's way to try to dominate and control, to possess. All such ambitions were vain. Nothing in life lasts forever except the great "forever" itself, out of which all things are born and to which all must at last return.

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