12 Quotes From Ancient Chinese Philosophy That Will Change Your Perspective on Life

As China’s only indigenous religion, Taoism’s influence is found in everything from calligraphy and politics to medicine and poetry.

It represents the unknown, and inspires us to go to places to discover more about our nature.

Taoism has achieved an incredible resurgence in the West in recent years, and for good reason. It’s full of wisdom on how to live a life of passion while remaining detached and free of the ego.

Here are my 12 favorite Chinese philosophy quotes from Taoist spiritual masters which provide a great introduction to mindfulness and the Taoist way of life.

Person admiring the vast sky and Chinese philosophy quotes

Be faithful to your nature

 

“The moon does not fight. It attacks no one. It does not worry. It does not try to crush others. It keeps to its course, but by its very nature, it gently influences. What other body could pull an entire ocean from shore to shore? The moon is faithful to its nature and its power is never diminished.”
― Ming-Dao Deng

Vulnerability is the only authentic state

“Vulnerability is the only authentic state. Being vulnerable means being open, for wounding, but also for pleasure. Being open to the wounds of life means also being open to the bounty and beauty. Don’t mask or deny your vulnerability: it is your greatest asset. Be vulnerable: quake and shake in your boots with it. the new goodness that is coming to you, in the form of people, situations, and things can only come to you when you are vulnerable, i.e. open.”
― Stephen Russell

Just let go

“You must let what happens happen. Everything must be equal in your eyes, good and evil, beautiful and ugly, foolish and wise.”
― Michael Ende

Learn how to suffer

“Those who don’t know how to suffer are the worst off. There are times when the only correct thing we can do is to bear out troubles until a better day.”
― Ming-Dao Deng

Know yourself

“A man who knows how little he knows is well, a man who knows how much he knows is sick. If, when you see the symptoms, you can tell, Your cure is quick. A sound man knows that sickness makes him sick and before he catches it his cure is quick.”
― Lao Tzu

What counts is getting back up

“Grappling with fate is like meeting an expert wrestler: to escape, you have to accept the fall when you are thrown. The only thing that counts is whether you get back up.”
― Ming-Dao Deng

Make room for new ideas

“If you have a good idea, use it so that you will not only accomplish something, but so that you can make room for new ones to flow into you.”
― Ming-Dao Deng

Let go of love and hate

“When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised. Make the slightest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart. If you wish to see the truth, then hold no opinions for or against anything. To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind.”
― Hsin Hsin Ming

Be like the Tao

“Those who know don’t talk. Those who talk don’t know. Close your mouth, block off your senses, blunt your sharpness, untie your knots, soften your glare, settle your dust. This is the primal identity. Be like the Tao. It can’t be approached or withdrawn from, benefited or harmed, honored or brought into disgrace. It gives itself up continually. That is why it endures.”
― Lao Tzu

Rest in inaction

“You have only to rest in inaction and things will transform themselves. Smash your form and body, spit out hearing and eyesight, forget you are a thing among other things, and you may join in great unity with the deep and boundless.”
― Zhuangzi

Death is the transformation of things

“So it is said, for him who understands Heavenly joy, life is the working of Heaven; death is the transformation of things. In stillness, he and the yin share a single Virtue; in motion, he and the yang share a single flow.”
― Zhuangzi

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