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Depending on the romanization scheme you use, this man's name can be spelled Laozi, Lao Tzu, or Lao Tze. In older English usage, he was known as Laocius. He is believed to have lived around 500 B.C.
He was a Chinese philosopher, founder of Daoism/Taoism, credited with being the author of the sacred and wise book of Daoism/Taoism.
There is a theory that Lao Tzu's soul traveled to India and was reborn as the Buddha.
道德經 are the Chinese characters for the writings of Laozi/Lao Tzu known as the Dàodéjīng or Tao Tê Ching.
To breakdown the meaning of the characters:
道 means "way", though many refer to it as "the Way". It has been romanized as Tao or Dao. The Dao has been referred to by Confucius, Mencius, and other ancient Chinese philosophers.
德 means virtue, integrity, or morality.
經 in this context means canon, great book, sacred book, scripture or classic.
慈 is the simplest way to express the idea of compassion. It can also mean love for your fellow humans, humanity, or living creatures. Sometimes this is extended to mean charity.
This term is often used with Buddhist or Christian context. The concept was also spoken of by Laozi (Lao Tzu) in the Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching).
慈 is considered the direct translation of the Sanskrit word मैत्री (maitrī) Pali word मेत्ता (mettā). In this context, it means benevolence, loving-kindness, and good will.
This Chinese character is understood in Japanese but is usually used in compound words (not seen alone). Also used in old Korean Hanja, so it's very universal.
若水 is part of a very old saying from Lao Tzu.
It these two characters, there is a suggestion to be like water. The full phrase is about the goodness and purity of water. So, when this suggests being like water, it is actually a suggestion to be a good person (one who does not dishonor himself/herself etc).
This is referred to as passage or chapter 33 of the Dao De Jing (often Romanized as "Tao Te Ching").
These are the words of the philosopher Laozi (Lao Tzu).
During our research, the Chinese characters shown here are probably the most accurate to the original text of Laozi. These were taken for the most part from the Mawangdui 1973 and Guodan 1993 manuscripts which pre-date other Daodejing texts by about 1000 years.
Grammar was a little different in Laozi's time. So you should consider this to be the ancient Chinese version. Some have modernized this passage by adding, removing, or swapping articles and changing the grammar (we felt the oldest and most original version would be more desirable). You may find other versions printed in books or online - sometimes these modern texts are simply used to explain to Chinese people what the original text really means.
This language issue can be compared in English by thinking how the King James (known as the Authorized version in Great Britain) Bible from 1611 was written, and comparing it to modern English. Now imagine that the Daodejing was probably written around 403 BCE (2000 years before the King James Version of the Bible). To a Chinese person, the original Daodejing reads like text that is 3 times more detached compared to Shakespeare's English is to our modern-day speech.
While on this Biblical text comparison, it should be noted, that just like the Bible, all the original texts of the Daodejing were lost or destroyed long ago. Just as with the scripture used to create the Bible, various manuscripts exist, many with variations or copyist errors. Just as the earliest New Testament scripture (incomplete) is from 170 years after Christ, the earliest Daodejing manuscript (incomplete) is from 100-200 years after the death of Laozi.
The reason that the originals were lost probably has a lot to do with the first Qin Emperor. Upon taking power and unifying China, he ordered the burning and destruction of all books (scrolls/rolls) except those pertaining to Chinese medicine and a few other subjects. The surviving Daodejing manuscripts were either hidden on purpose or simply forgotten about. Some were not unearthed until as late as 1993.
We compared a lot of research by various archeologists and historians before deciding on this as the most accurate and correct version. But one must allow that it may not be perfect, or the actual and original as from the hand of Laozi himself.
Below are some entries from our dictionary that may match your lao tzu laozi search...
If shown, 2nd row is Simp. Chinese
|Simple Dictionary Definition|
| lǎo zi / lao3 zi5
roushi / roshi / ろうし
father; daddy; "I, your father" (in anger, or out of contempt); I (used arrogantly or jocularly)
Laozi; Lao Tzu; Lao Tse
Laozi, or Laocius, the accepted founder of the Daoists. The theory that his soul went to India and was reborn as the Buddha is found in the 齊書 History of the Qi dynasty 顧歡傳.
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The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...
|Title||Characters||Romaji(Romanized Japanese)||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|老子||roushi / roshi||lǎo zǐ / lao3 zi3 / lao zi / laozi||lao tzu / laotzu|
Tao Te Ching
|dào dé jīng|
dao4 de2 jing1
dao de jing
|tao te ching
|慈||ji||cí / ci2 / ci||tz`u / tzu|
|Be Like Water||若水||ruò shuǐ / ruo4 shui3 / ruo shui / ruoshui||jo shui / joshui|
Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33
|zhī rén zhě zhī yě zì zhī zhě míng yě shèng rén zhě yǒu lì yě zì shèng zhě qiáng yě zhī zú zhě fù yě qiáng xíng zhě yǒu zhì yě bù zhī qí suǒ zhě jiǔ yě sǐ ér bù wáng zhě shòu yě|
zhi1 ren2 zhe3 zhi1 ye3 zi4 zhi1 zhe3 ming2 ye3 sheng4 ren2 zhe3 you3 li4 ye3 zi4 sheng4 zhe3 qiang2 ye3 zhi1 zu2 zhe3 fu4 ye3 qiang2 xing2 zhe3 you3 zhi4 ye3 bu4 zhi1 qi2 suo3 zhe3 jiu3 ye3 si3 er2 bu4 wang2 zhe3 shou4 ye3
zhi ren zhe zhi ye zi zhi zhe ming ye sheng ren zhe you li ye zi sheng zhe qiang ye zhi zu zhe fu ye qiang xing zhe you zhi ye bu zhi qi suo zhe jiu ye si er bu wang zhe shou ye
|chih jen che chih yeh tzu chih che ming yeh sheng jen che yu li yeh tzu sheng che ch`iang yeh chih tsu che fu yeh ch`iang hsing che yu chih yeh pu chih ch`i so che chiu yeh ssu erh pu wang che shou yeh
chih jen che chih yeh tzu chih che ming yeh sheng jen che yu li yeh tzu sheng che chiang yeh chih tsu che fu yeh chiang hsing che yu chih yeh pu chih chi so che chiu yeh ssu erh pu wang che shou yeh
|In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.|
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.
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Professional calligraphers are getting to be hard to find these days.
Instead of drawing characters by hand, the new generation in China merely type roman letters into their computer keyboards and pick the character that they want from a list that pops up.
There is some fear that true Chinese calligraphy may become a lost art in the coming years. Many art institutes in China are now promoting calligraphy programs in hopes of keeping this unique form of art alive.
Even with the teachings of a top-ranked calligrapher in China, my calligraphy will never be good enough to sell. I will leave that to the experts.
The same calligrapher who gave me those lessons also attracted a crowd of thousands and a TV crew as he created characters over 6-feet high. He happens to be ranked as one of the top 100 calligraphers in all of China. He is also one of very few that would actually attempt such a feat.
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