Lao Tzu - Free Essay about Chinese Philosopher

Published: 2022-06-01
Lao Tzu - Free Essay about Chinese Philosopher
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  Philosophers
Pages: 8
Wordcount: 2020 words
17 min read

Lao Tzu whose name has the meaning of old master was a philosopher and writer in the early Chinese history. He has a reputation for being the author of the Tao Te Ching, an ancient Chinese text that is dated back to the late fourth century before Christ. The Tao Te Ching is an essential text for philosophical and religious Taoism. It has also influenced schools that use Chinese philosophy and religion which includes Buddhism, Confucianism, and legalism. The faiths were primarily interpreted using Taoist words and concepts when it was first introduced to China. The Tao Te Ching can be understood as the book of the required ways and virtues.

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Lao Tzu had nicknames like Lao Tse, Lao Tzu, Lao Tze and was born at 601 B.C in a Chinese province called Henan. Lao Tzu's personal life is still not wholly demystified, and there are some tales associated with his life since birth. A trusted source with information on Lao Tzu's life is the shiji written by a historian who existed at 145 B.C and goes by the name Sian Qian. According to the biography, Lao Tzu was born In a county of the state of the Chu called Ku. However, the county is in the present day known as the Luyi County of the province of Henan. His family name was li. There is, however, a story that surrounds his birth where it is believed that he spent between eight to eighty years an unborn child before he was born which earned him a name the old child.

While there is limited information on Lao Tzu's child life, his province the Chu had a structured culture greatly interfered with by shamanism, and this is shown in Lao Tzu's the Tao Te Ching. When speaking of the Tao sages of historical times, Lao Tzu called for the conversion to shamanic values and morals that included an understanding of morals and values and aligning them with nature. The Tao sage, is an active person of a particular community, and means to use Tao rules to day to day life activities and in the government because it was the only possible way according to Lao that lasting harmony and peace would be restored to a dividing community.

According to earlier accounts, Lao Tzu was a scholar who worked as the keeper of the records for the royal court of Zhou a Chinese dynasty that took after the Shang dynasty and preceded the Qin dynasty. The Zhou dynasty ruled for the most prolonged period than any other regime in the history of China. It reportedly allowed Tzu to access to the works of the yellow lord, a god in the Chinese religion, one among several Chinese legendary rulers and culture heroes, and other antiques of the time. The bibliography, however, shows no evidence of Tzu ever opening a formal school but he nonetheless attracted many people who wanted to learn from him and other loyal disciples. Lao Tzu is said to have married and had the son called Zong who later in life became an accomplished soldier.

Taoism dates back to the ancient Chinese history to the times of ancient China and has influenced the Chinese culture over the ages. Lao Tzu is regarded as the founding father of Taoism religion and emerged during the dynasty of Han. The first commentary on Taoism is that of Heshang gong a hermit from the early century who had writings on Lao's philosophy he was a celebrated figure portrayed as a teacher to the Han ruler. The first organized form of Taoism, the Tianshi, a Chinese Daoist movement that was founded by dang Zhao ling who claimed that Lao Tzu had appeared to him in the year 142. The Tiansi School was officially by the then ruler in 215 thus legitimizing Cao Cao's rise as emperor in return. Here, Lao Tzu received recognition as a deity in the mid-2nd century.

After the Han dynasty had fallen, the three kingdoms period came to rule, and in this period, the neo-Taoism school of thought in Chinese philosophy including Wang bia neo Daoist philosophy carried on the study of the texts written by Lao Tzu. The members of the neo-Taoism school were not religious but mainly focused on reconciliation of the Confucian thought with the Taoism thought. Taoism however gained official status in China during the rule of the Tang dynasty, where there were claims that Tzu was a relative to the rulers. Taoism yet faced competition from Buddhism and Confucianism for patronage ad ranking. After the Tang dynasty came to the song dynasty where various Taoism schools were formed, and still exist to date. During this period there was an increase in interaction between the elite traditions of Taoism and the local traditions of folk religions. After, there came the Yuan, the Ming, the Qing, the nationalist period where Taoism had declined, and people embraced science ad to some extent Christianity, and there was a control on traditional activities especially those related to religion. Today, however, Taoism traditions have been revived, and temples on the belief have been opened. Taoism is one among other religions today recognized in China.

The Chinese philosopher has many great works accredited to him as well as ideologies that he created during his life. The best-known work around the globe has to be the Tao teaching. Tao refers to the way or the path; Tao means virtue whereas Ching relates to law or power. Ideally, Lao intended for the book to talk about a topic that couldn't be covered in words. In the book, he sought to explore the aspect of eternity, which, rather than being a process of doing things that could be comparable, but is, in fact, the operation of the infinite universe itself. He believed that all things followed a particular process, in the external, to which all things were subject. He further propagated that language is limited to a finite scale. In explaining this, he noted that even though the language is made up of ideas, thoughts, sounds, and words, it would still have to justify its existence and thus be caught up in an endless loop.

La Tzu also penned great poetic works including one called one a day 'til May. In the poem, there's a reoccurring line that says all things pass. It was a poem of subtle motivation and reflection that things must not always remain the same. Just as a sunrise does not last all the morning, circumstances change, and we should be prepared just to face things as they come. We should not do so in an element of fear, as is typical to humankind but in the view that the situation will only stay its course. His poetry writings explored themes central to the core of humanity and existence as well as issues that had troubled humankind for years. They gave guidance in the view of mortality and coexistence with fellow man and the natural order. In his poem, why are people starving, Lao Tzu measures the value of a life. He points out to the evils among the ruling elite, the consequent rebelliousness of the people and the loss of hoe to the extent that people do not mind death. He points out that the genesis of this rebellion is because their leaders demand too much. It is a causal and effect relationship whereby people starve because the rulers eat up their taxes. As a result of interference by the leaders, people rebel. Finally, because leaders demand too much of life, they push the people to have disregard for it.

He also wrote on other subjects like self-discovery and his journey and experiences as a sage. As a way to expound on how language and thoughts limit us, he wrote a poem that sought to question the things we have been taught to believe only exist as such. Again he touched on the subject of what drives men between need and desire. The poem goes; the five tastes will soil a man's palate, and in order not to be found guilty of misconduct, as a sage he struggles to provide for the stomach and not for the eye. The meaning of this is that he advises individuals to seek what is necessary before exerting themselves and reaching for things to be accorded admirable stature in the eyes of other people. In yet another poem, he examines the facade that is the human existence where we seem to be in competition with our neighbors and compare our lives to theirs. Looking at the lives of others, he observes that they all have more than enough and only he is unfulfilled. He admits that he is unique even though this fact of taking a different path from the rest pegs him as being awkward and impractical. His central teachings revolved around the fact that wisdom can only be attained through grasping the way in which the universe works.

The marvellous importance of the Tao teaching to self-awareness cannot be measured. It is a manual that instructs how one can achieve wholeness and exist in the world with integrity and goodness. The most revealing aspect of the Tao teaching is the achievement of a new level of awareness away from the mar of traditional mind set of obsessively naming things and clinging to those definitions for life. The Tao teaching advocates for movement from a worrisome experience to one where individuals spend time becoming self-aware and can thus discover ways to do things better. In this way, the Tao teaching is crucial as it invokes creativity and innovation in an individual.

The Tao teaching is also relevant as it teaches love and in this respect, love for all. In the learning, it is illustrated that if one can achieve to love the world as they like themselves, then they can demonstrate care for all things.

Lao Tzu left the Zhou who was on the brink of collapse to conduct a voyage. He had grown increasingly tired of the moral corruption and was filled with sadness by the fact that men were rebellious towards following the path that would lead to natural goodness. He masqueraded as a farmer in his journey, but an official that recognized him at the border denied him passage until he compiled his wisdom m into a book now widely known as the Tao teaching. From then on he disappeared from public glare, and this became his last known work. It is documented that he died in the 6th century, before Christ.

The Lao Tzu historic legend has been wonderfully resented as a source of immense wisdom. Throughout, the years, there have emerged many notable scholars that have read it and attempted to explore and interpret its teaching. As is the case with many such instructions of high regard, there have also been as many critics concerning the legend and the teachings he advocated for. He is presented as a wise teacher who had high regard for life and morally upright. Lao Tzu is also shown to be an individual that had a deeper understanding of life, and who dedicated his life to quench this thirst for knowledge and help humanity. All of the works he published tried to explore important themes that plague humankind, and which do so, even more, to this day. His last work Tao teaching is what he is mostly acknowledged for. His ideas on self-awareness have been read and explored the world over, and his legend still lives on to the resent day.

Works Cited

Boaz, David, ed. The libertarian reader: Classic & contemporary writings from Lao-Tzu to Milton Friedman. Simon and Schuster, 2015Chan, Wing-tsit. The Way of Lao Tzu. Ravenio Books, 2015.

Hayes, Will. "The man of Tao a text-book of Taoism." (2018).

Lewerenz, Matthew E. "Learning to Unlearn: Using Taoism and Critical Pedagogy in Language Education to Foster Global Unity." Promoting Global Competencies Through Media Literacy. IGI Global, 2018. 185-192.

Tzu, Lao, and Redaer. Daodejing (tao te ching). Author's Republic, 2016.

Tzu, Lao. "Tao Te Ching. Lao Tzu's Book of the Way and of Righteousness." New York, NY (2016).

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