Lao Zi - the Founder of Taoism
Lao Zi is regarded as father of Chinese philosophy. Lao Zi, with the surname of Lee and the given name of Er, was also called Lao Ran. He lived in the 6th century BC, and was a great philosopher, thinker, educator and the founder of the Taoist school of thought in ancient China .
According to the extant historical documents, Lao Zi was a learned, sharp-eyed, forethoughtful, and eloquent wise man, which might have something to do with his experience as a historiographer in charge of the libraries of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770-256BC). He pointed out that it was the severe exploitation of the rulers that caused people to starve. Confucius , the founder of Confucianism, consulted with Lao Zi many times and once compared him with a dragon, which exemplified how enigmatic Lao Zi was.
Lao Zi held that everything was linked with and dependent on one another. Each pair of yes and no, easy and difficult, long and short, etc. was a contrastive unification. If one side didn't exist, there wouldn't be the other. He also asserted that the two opposite sides could be converted. Meanwhile, dissatisfied with the social reality of in-fighting and hard life, he advocated a society of a small country with a small population and no communications with neighboring countries. Many of his viewpoints and principles of life such as the weak overcoming the strong, holding oneself aloof from worldly success, emptying the heart of desire, adopting an easy-going manner, retiring at the height of one's career, being selfless and modest, etc. have exerted great influence on the Chinese mind and have been applied to politics, economy, military affairs, culture, business, and social intercourse.
The biggest achievement of Lao Zi is his book Dao De Jing ( Classic of the Tao and Its Power ). Driven by an unceasing desire to escape to the unknown, the aged philosopher decided upon his journey to the unknown. In a two-wheeled carriage drawn by black oxen, he set out to leave the deluded, society-corrupted world behind him. But at the western pass he was forbidden to go through the gate, until he had written his philosophy. Laozi, thereupon, lingered in the gatehouse long enough to compose the treatise that came down to us as Dao De Jing in which he expounded his views in succinct, crisp sentences, some even obscure and cryptic. Then he departed over the pass, to be heard of no more.
Dao De Jing is actually a 5,000-word philosophical poem in verses, which consists of two parts: Dao Jing, with an emphasis on philosophy, and De Jing, with an emphasis on politics and military affairs. Dao De Jing, putting forward metaphysics systematically for the first time to the real formation of Taoist school of thought, plays a key role in the formation of ancient Chinese philosophy. Early in the Western Han Dynasty (206BC-8AD), the ruling class practiced a kind of so-called Huanglao (Emperor Huang and Lao Zi) politics, characterized by Taoist doctrine of governing by doing nothing, and realized a quick economic instauration, known as Reigns of Wen & Jing (prosperity in the period of Emperor Wen and Emperor Jing) in history.