Lao-Tzu was a Chinese philosopher credited with founding the philosophical system of Taoism. He is best known as the author of the Tao-Te-Ching, the work which exemplifies his thought. He knew the wisdom of silence, and lived. He lived in the 6th century BCE.
Lao Tzu means ‘Old Master,’ and he was believed by some to be a God-realised being. The Four Cardinal Virtues are found in the Tao Te Ching, a collection of sayings expounding the principal Taoist teachings. These four cardinal virtues, or rules for living life, can provide a framework for a life filled with inner peace and purpose.
1. Reverence for all Life : - This virtue manifests as having unconditional love and positive regard for all creatures in the universe, starting with ourselves, then this will naturally flow out to all others. This reverence is for all life, not just some forms. It is honouring all forms of life, and at its core has an innate spiritual understanding of how the universe truly works – that we are all sparks of the one fire. When we live with reverence for all life, we surrender our need to control and to dominate. We naturally come into heartfelt appreciation and gratitude for all of life. This first virtue is the key to diminishing the ego.
2. Natural Sincerity : - This virtue encompasses kindness and authenticity. To me, it has a feeling of compassion and an all-encompassing love for all beings. When we are sincere and act with integrity, we move towards peace and inner tranquility. Our conscience clear, we don’t have the inner niggles over our dishonest actions that can erode a peaceful mind. Much of these four pillars relate to karma, the law of cause and effect, and maintaining equilibrium and impeccability. This virtue is honesty, simplicity, and faithfulness. It is about being true to yourself and walking your talk.
3. Gentleness : - Gentleness is a deeply powerful trait. Often interpreted as weakness, gentleness is sensitivity, respect, and reverence for all life. Perhaps this virtue can be summed up by the Dalai Lama who often says; “ my religion is very simple, my religion is kindness. ” In life, it is far more important to be kind than to be right, and to be kind rather than important. Gentleness is an umbrella for forgiveness, acceptance and love. It is much like the yogic term ahimsa, or non-violence. When we give up being right and being superior, we start accepting ourselves and others, and so much conflict in our lives drops away.
4. Supportiveness : - When we are supportive of ourselves, with kind words, loving actions and self-care, we are naturally supportive of others. This virtue is the basic tenet of humanity. We are naturally social beings and, at our core, we want to be with others and to help others. Many experiments show how humans are motivated by connection and will move towards this rather than other things. When we give to others, share and support others, we become happy. Our lives become meaningful and our hearts full. Supportiveness is about service. Open hearted service for the sake of helping others and benefiting others, with no thought to our own gain. Supportiveness is also about holding space for another, listening to another, and being there for others. It is radical loving kindness in action.
“ Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth ‘you owe me.’ ”
“ To realise the constancy and steadiness in your life is to realise the deep nature of the universe. This realisation is not dependent on any transitory internal or external condition, rather it is an expression of one’s own immutable spiritual nature. The only way to attain the Universal Way is to maintain the integral virtues of the constancy, steadiness and simplicity in one’s daily life. ” – Lao Tzu
“ When you succeed in connecting your energy with the divine realm through high awareness and the practice of undiscriminating virtue, the transmission of the ultimate subtle truths will follow. ” – Lao Tzu
“ Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. ” – Lao Tzu
“ The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. ” – Lao Tzu
“ Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
“ Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. ” – Lao Tzu
“ When the best leader's work is done the people say, 'We did it ourselves.” – Lao Tzu
“ Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.” – Lao Tzu
“ Silence is a source of great strength.” – Lao Tzu
“ I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. ” – Lao Tzu
“ Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them - that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” – Lao Tzu
“ The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness.” – Lao Tzu
“ Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides.” – Lao Tzu
“ A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu
“ If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” – Lao Tzu
“ Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is Enlightenment. ” – Lao Tzu
“ For the wise man looks into space and he knows there is no limited dimensions. ” – Lao Tzu
“ Treat those who are good with goodness, and also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained. Be honest to those who are honest, and be also honest to those who are not honest. Thus honesty is attained. ” – Lao Tzu
“ Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. ” – Lao Tzu
“ The softest things in the world overcome the hardest things in the world. ” – Lao Tzu
“ To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders. ” – Lao Tzu
“ Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power. ” – Lao Tzu
“ When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. ” – Lao Tzu
“ When you are content to be simply yourself and don't compare or compete, everybody will respect you. ” – Lao Tzu