Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Lao-tsze, the reputed author of the Tao Teh King, one of the sacred books of China, lived probably in the 7th century before Christ, and was a historiographer in the state of Ch'u, where is the modern province of Ho-nan. He was a contemporary of Confucius, whom he is thought to have met in 517 B.C. His real name was Li Erh, the designation by which he is generally known, meaning probably "the Venerable Philosopher." After writing his book at the request of Yin Hsi, the keeper of the gate leading into territories beyond those of Chan, he went away, and Ch'ien does not know when or where he died. The Tao Teh King is a short treatise, divided at first into two parts, but now subdivided into chapters. It seems that the quality which is inculcated in the book is single-minded action. The people were to be kept by their rulers without knowledge, so that they would wish to live only the life of the utmost simplicity. Tao "might appear to have been before God," says Lao-tsze. Humility, gentleness, and economy are its "three precious possessions," and good is to be returned for evil. Taoism at present is a system of polytheism, which borrowed from Buddhism its temples, liturgies, and forms of worship.