10 things you need to know about the Tao Te Ching

I’ve always loved books so it’s normal for me to always have one in my bag. 

The one that’s hung out in there the longest, wherever I’m travelling, is the Tao Te Ching. It’s my go-to whenever I’m in need of a new perspective or a burst of inspiration.

The Tao Te Ching is a 2,400-year-old reminder that today, as then, every one of us has a choice to practise self-awareness and exercise our own power in and over the world.

Underlying its beautiful simplicity is the fact that it is such an important text. It informed some of the earliest thinking on Chinese Medicine contained in The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine (or Huangdi Neijing). It is a landmark in the history of Chinese civilization and gives advice on health and the art of healing. It is the oldest known document in Chinese medicine. 

Its influence has spread widely outside East Asia and it is now among the most translated works in world literature.

So get this book on your radar – it might just change your life! Or at least provide some quiet reassurance when life gets overwhelming.

Settle in with a brew and check out my 10 reasons you need the Tao Te Ching in your life!

  1. The Tao Te Ching was written by La Tzu, an enigmatic character whose real identity remains hotly debated. He is believed to have been variously a simple monk, a contemporary of Confucius (551–479 BC), an official in the imperial library, a historian and an astrologer.
  2. The Tao Te Ching was written 2,500 years ago and yet it’s still as relevant as it ever was. Many artists, including poets, painters, calligraphers, and gardeners, have used the Tao Te Ching as a source of inspiration. 
  3. You can think of the Tao as a road, or path that guides us through life. It is an unending path – from all of life coming into being, expressing itself, to returning to non-being.
  4. Lao Tzu presented a way of life intended to restore harmony and tranquillity to a kingdom racked by widespread disorders. I also interpret that its advice can help us to restore order in ourselves, too.
  5. Heard the idea of “doing not-doing” or wu wei? Perhaps you’ve heard the famous Bruce Lee line “Be like water, my friend”. I’ve noticed wu wei getting far more airtine these days presumably because the effortless action (or non-action) can be understood as a kind of antidote to the over-busy, frenetic pace of modern life.
  6. Lao Tzu acknowledges the need for balance in all things. This idea permeates all Eastern Medicine. it is therapies like Shiatsu and Reiki that work to restore the yin and yang qualities within us and every-thing. The main takeaway here: when in balance, we are more likely to be in good health, and prevent dis-ease from taking hold.
  7. The text’s sobering warning about the loss of balance is something to keep in mind as we look to find (or return to) balance in ourselves and in our lives.

When man interferes with Tao,

the sky becomes filthy,

the earth becomes depleted,

the equilibirum crumbles,

creatures become extinct.

Lao Tzu

  1. You can accept Lao Tzu’s guidance lightly or go into great philosophical depth. Here is Taoist expert Basti Deans sharing some nugget. I appreciate his enthusiasm and ability to make abstract concepts accessible!
  2. The Tao Te Ching is the main book for Taoism, which is both a philosophy and part of Chinese folk religion. It also influenced other philosophies in and around China. You don’t need to subscribe to any particular religion or doctrine to benefit from the Tao’s advice.
  3. A closing thought on fear, an emotion most of us have probably had to navigate over the past year or so.

Whoever can see through all fear

will always be safe

Lao Tzu

Every time I return to the Tao Te Ching, I take away something new. It’s endurance is testament to its ancient wisdom for modern times.

It’s pocket size also makes it easy to carry around, and the Japanese watercolours in this favourite translation help to make it easy on the eye!

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About Me

I founded SJA Holistics to help people get well, feel great, and stay well using the power of practices derived from Eastern Medicine including Shiatsu, Reiki, Acupressure and Qi Gong.

For over a decade I’ve worked with Ki and have first-hand experience of how energy- and body-work can lead to positive health. Working with the energy body as well as the physical can bring profound changes to mental, emotional and physical issues.

After completing three years of study for the Professional Shiatsu Diploma, I honed my experience working voluntarily for six months in a national UK charity giving Shiatsu to people recovering from substance misuse.

It is my mission to help you recognise your own self-healing ability and to empower you with the skills and knowledge you need to dramatically improve your self-care.

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Every one of us has a universal energy, also known as lifeforce, chi, prana and Ki, that underpins our whole existence, and within that, our health. Stimulating the flow of Ki is how you can get well, feel great and stay well.

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