Lao Tzu as Founder

The philosopher Lao Tzu is considered the founder of Taoism. Nobody is sure, though, whether or not he actually existed. We don’t even know what his real name was; Lao Tzu means “The Old Man” or “The Grand Old Master.”

Lao Tzu didn’t try to organize a religion. He didn’t preach. He only wrote his ideas down because a border patrolman asked him to. Having written the Tao Te Ching, the central scripture of Taoism, Lao Tzu rode off and was never heard of again.

Does this description fit with your idea of the type of person who would found a religion? Why or why not?

The Tao of Daily Life

In Taoism, the Tao, or Way, can be understood in many ways. One meaning of the Tao is that it is the way people should life their daily lives. Instead of struggling with nature, we should adapt ourselves to nature.

List as many ways as you can in which people try to adapt nature to our use, instead of adapting ourselves to nature.

Chuang Tzu and Death

Chuang Tzu, who lived from about 369 to 268 B.C.E., was a leading Taoist thinker. (His name is also sometimes spelled Chuangtse.) his parables and anecdotes were collected in a book that bears his name, Chuang-tzu.

Chuang Tzu said that the only way to be happy and truly free was by understanding the Tao, or Way. If we understand the Way, then we need not fear death, as it is merely an inevitable part of the Way. Death makes new life possible.

How would you describe death?