Laozi was said to have emerged as a grown man with a full grey beard and long earlobes, both symbols of wisdom and long life.   Other myths state that he was reborn 13 times after his first life during the days of Fuxi .https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laozi
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The life of Laozi Despite his historical importance, Laozi remains an obscure figure. The principal source of information about his life is a biography in the Shiji (“Records of the Historian”) by Sima Qian. This historian, who wrote in about 100 bce, had little solid information concerning the philosopher.
Laozi was said to have emerged as a grown man with a full grey beard and long earlobes, both symbols of wisdom and long life.   Other myths state that he was reborn 13 times after his first life during the days of Fuxi .
The origin and life of Laozi is extremely ambiguous and even after centuries of research very little is known about his life. Nevertheless, his teachings have been handed down through centuries and today his followers are manifold.
Lǎozǐ (Laozi or Lao Tzu) was a naturalistic philosopher-sage attributed with founding the Chinese way of life known as Daoism, and credited with having written the Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching), though both claims have been historically disputed by scholars.
- The Laozi Story
- Date and Authorship of The Laozi
- Textual Traditions
- Approaches to The Laozi
- Dao and Virtue
- Naturalness and Nonaction
The Shiji(Records of the Historian) by the Han dynasty (206B.C.E.–220 C.E.) court scribe and historian Sima Qian(ca. 145–86 B.C.E.) offers a “biography” ofLaozi. Its reliability has been questioned, but it provides a point ofdeparture for reconstructing the Laozi story. Laozi was a native of Chu, according to the Shiji, a southernstate in the Zhou dynasty (see map and discussion in Loewe andShaughnessy 1999, 594 and 597). His surname was Li; his given name wasEr, and he was also called Dan. Laozi served as a keeper of archival records at the court ofZhou. Confucius (551–479 B.C.E.) had consulted him on certainritual matters, we are told, and praised him lavishly afterward(Shiji 63). This establishes the traditional claim that Laoziwas a senior contemporary of Confucius. A meeting, or meetings,between Confucius and Laozi, identified as “Lao Dan,” isreported also in the Zhuangziand other early Chinesesources. “Laozi cultivated Dao and virtue,” as Sima Qian goes on torelate, and “his l...
The date of composition refers to the time when the Laozireached more or less its final form; it does not rule out laterinterpolations or corruptions. The traditional view, of course, isthat the Laozi was written by Lao Dan in the sixth or earlyfifth century B.C.E. This seems unlikely, however, if it is assumedthat the Laozi was written by a single author. As thearchaeological evidence to be presented below will indicate, bodies ofsayings attributed to Laozi were committed to writing probably fromthe second half of the fifth century B.C.E., resulting in differentcollections with overlapping contents. These collections grew,competed for attention, and gradually came to be consolidated duringthe fourth century B.C.E. By the middle of the third century B.C.E.,the Laoziprobably reached a relatively stable form. It is possible, as A. C. Graham suggests, that the Laozi wasascribed to Lao Dan around 250 B.C.E. by the text’s author or“publiciser,” capitalizing on Lao Dan’s reputation (1986,...
The discovery of two Laozi silk manuscripts at Mawangdui,near Changsha, Hunan province in 1973 marks an important milestone inmodern Laozi research. The manuscripts, identified simply as“A” (jia) and “B” (yi), werefound in a tomb that was sealed in 168 B.C.E. The texts themselves canbe dated earlier, the “A” manuscript being the older ofthe two, copied in all likelihood before 195 B.C.E. (see Lau 1982,Boltz 1984, and Henricks 1989). A documentary on the Mawangdui findwas aired on Chinese CCTV-10 in June 2010, which can be viewed fromits website. The Hunan Provincial Museum website also provides usefulinformation. Before this find, access to the Laoziwas mainly through thereceived text of Wang Bi (226–249 C.E.) and Heshanggong, alegendary figure depicted as a teacher to Emperor Wen(r. 179–157 B.C.E.) of the Han dynasty. There are othermanuscript versions, but by and large they play a secondary role inthe history of the classic. A more recent archaeological find in Guodian, the so-cal...
Commentaries to the Laozioffer an invaluable guide tointerpretation and are important also for their own contributions toChinese philosophy and religion. Two chapters in the current Hanfeizi (chs. 21 and 22) areentitled “Explaining (the Sayings of) Laozi”(Jie Lao) and “Illustrating (the Sayingsof) Laozi” (Yu Lao), which can be regarded asthe earliest extant commentary to the classic (for a detailed studyand translation, see Sarah A. Queen 2013). The“bibliographical” section of the Hanshu (Historyof the Former or Western Han Dynasty) lists four commentaries tothe Laozi, but they have notsurvived. Nevertheless, Laozi learning began to flourish fromthe Han period. The commentaries by Heshanggong, Yan Zun, Wang Bi, andthe Xiang’er commentary will be introduced in whatfollows. Some mention will also be made of later developments in thehistory of the Daodejing. The late Isabelle Robinet hascontributed an important pioneering study of the early Laozicommentaries (1977; see also Robinet 199...
Is the Laozia manual of self-cultivation and government? Isit a metaphysical treatise, or does it harbor deep mysticalinsights? Chapter 1 of the current Laozibegins with the famous words:“The Way that can be spoken of is not the constant Way.”Chapter 10 speaks of nourishing one’s “soul” and embracingthe “One.” Chapter 80 depicts the ideal polity as a smallcountry with few inhabitants. The Laozi is a difficult text. Its language is often cryptic;the sense or reference of the many symbols it employs remains unclear,and there seems to be conceptual inconsistencies. For example, whereaschapter 2 refers to the “mutual production of being andnonbeing,” chapter 40 declares, “Being originates innonbeing” (Henricks, trans. 1989). Is it more meaningful tospeak of the “worldviews” of the Daodejing,instead of a unified vision? If the Laozi were an “anthology” put together atrandom by different compilers over a long period of time, occasionalinconsistencies need not be an issue. Traditionally, h...
To begin with Dao, the etymology of the Chinese graph or charactersuggests a pathway, or heading in a certain direction along apath. Most commentators agree in translating dao as“way.” In early Chinese literature, dao generallydepicts a relatively wide thoroughfare or carriage way, and in somecontexts waterways, but it is used also to convey what is deemed theright or proper course, and by extension the doctrines or teachingsthat set forth such a course, or the means and methods that wouldbring it about. Laozi 53, for example, states, “Thegreat dao is very even (flat, easy to travel on), but peoplelike (to take) by-ways (jing).” The literal senseof dao as a path, contrasted in this instancewith jing, a small trail off the main road, is clearlypreserved here, but it is also easy to see how it can be used as ametaphor, how the extended ethical and spiritual sense of daocomes into the picture. As a verb, perhaps on account of the directionalityinvolved, dao also conveys the sense of“sp...
The Laozi makes use of the concept of ziran,literally what is “self (zi) so (ran),”to describe the workings of Dao. As an abstractconcept, ziran gives no specific information, except to saythat Dao is not derived from or “modeled” (fa)after anything (ch. 25). However, since “heaven andearth”—interpreted as nature in most modernstudies—are said to be born of Dao and come to be in virtue oftheir de, the Laoziis in effect saying that theways of nature reflect the function of Dao. In a cosmological reading, this suggests an understanding of nature asgoverned by the operation of qi energies in an ideal yin-yangsystem characterized by harmony and fecundity. As interpreted by WangBi, the Laozi means more generally that there are“principles” (li) inherent in nature. Human beings are, in turn, born of heaven and earth and so are“modeled” after them, either in terms oftheir qi-constitution or in the sense that they are governedalso by the same basic principles. Usually translated as“naturalne...
The earliest attempt to write a biography of Laozi was made in the first century b.c.e. by the great historian Sima Qian (Ssu-ma Ch’ien; c. 145-c. 86 b.c.e.), but even at that early date the...
Apr 04, 2019 · Laozi, also known as Lao Tzu, is a Chinese legendary and historical figure who is considered to be the founder of Taoism. The Tao Te Ching, Taoism’s most sacred text, is believed to have been written by Laozi. Many historians consider Laozi to be a mythical figure rather than a historical one.
Mar 30, 2020 · Laozi was said to have emerged as a grown man with a full grey beard and long earlobes, both symbols of wisdom and long life. Other myths state that he was reborn 13 times after his first life during the days of Fuxi. In his last incarnation as Laozi, he lived nine hundred and ninety years and spent his life traveling to reveal the Tao.
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