What are some of the teachings we find from the life of Lao Tzu (pbuh)?
Lao Tzu is considered the founder of Taoism. Alongside him, you have also the well-known Sun Tzu (pbuh). The name Lao Tzu is a Chinese honorific title, meaning ‘honourable master.’
Lao Tzu is also well-known for his book Tao Te Ching which is the main book of Taoism. The name of the book means ‘the way of integrity.’ However, the ideology of Tao Te Ching is an idea that tries to escape from all lies and artificial things. It teaches the way to be natural.
There is this famous notion ‘Wu Wei’, translated as non-action…it does not mean that you do nothing, but rather that you should not do anything unless you are in a state of awareness.
That is to say: only act in awareness of yourself as connected to the higher self or soul. Otherwise, your thoughts, words and actions will be rooted in the self/ego. Actions rooted in ego cause oppression and injustice towards people and the rest of the world.
Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (fhip) told us that the ego can be dark by nature. So being aware of this and mastering it is a priority given to us among the tasks of self-discipline, self-education and self-purification.
That is why the book Tao Te Ching’s core teaching is humility and simplicity.
Lao Tzu also taught that people, like everything else in the universe, are constantly influenced by external forces. He wanted people to embrace the laws of nature and lead simple life. He taught that a person should not be a prisoner of their desires. The Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light embraces Taoist philosophy because, as Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (fhip) revealed, Lao Tzu was a prophet sent by God. All religions are one, just like the Tao is one.
Another teaching from the book is to contemplate nature. When you ponder upon nature, each creation benefits the other. They don’t exist for themselves. They exist to help and benefit others: The universe, solar system, planets, sky, clouds, sea, mountains, trees, rivers etc. That is why those living by the teachings of the Tao live in one beautiful, harmonious way, a great reminder of how to live selflessly.
The Yin Yang symbol, prevalent in Taoism, symbolises the balance between the two opposites. The Yin or soft self represents feminine energy, while the Yang or hard self represents male energy. Lao Tzu taught about the dualistic nature of this world. Everything is a balance between these two forces, which form the whole.
When we start implementing the teachings of the prophet Lao Tzu, it is clear that, in reality, there is no room for discord. All forms of negative energy must be removed so that only peace, tranquillity (Sakina) and love shall remain. This is the cherished wish of Aba Al-Sadiq (fhip) for all of us: unity, becoming one body, the great manifestation of God and love. With that, there is nothing we cannot do as we make the impossible possible.
“If there is no love, there is no life.”
–Sayings of Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (PBUH), p.27, hadith 41