Portrait of Lao Tzu

Lao Tzu

600 BCE – ????

Lao Tzu (or Laozi) is remembered as the first philosopher of Taoism. He is often cited as a contributor to, if not the author of, the Tao-te Ching, the basic philosophical discourse on Taoism.

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His life is shrouded in mystery and legend, but it is generally accepted that he was active sometime in the early sixth century B.C. and served as a resident scholar, called a shih, at the royal court of the Shou. By the seventh century A.D. he was worshipped as an imperial ancestor by the T’ang and regarded by commoners as the equivalent of a Western saint, or demigod. Legend says that an aged Lao Tzu upbraided a young and overconfident Confucius and that the young man later compared Lao Tzu to a dragon rising in the sky, riding on the winds and clouds.

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