Born: c. 571 BC
Died: 471 BC
Laozi (老子) was a philosopher and poet of ancient China. He is known as the reputed author of the Tao Te Ching (also referred to as the Laozi), the founder of philosophical Taoism and as a deity in religious Taoism and traditional Chinese religions. As a religious figure, he is worshiped under the name "Supreme Old Lord" and as one of the "Three Pure Ones".
Two core concepts in Laozi’s ideas are Zi Ran (Nature) and Wu Wei, in which Wu Wei refers to action without any struggle or excessive force. In the Laozi, while meditation and other forms of spiritual practice may be carried out, the concept of Wu Wei seems to be used more broadly as a contrast against any form of action characterised by self-serving desire. In Tao Te Ching, Laozi describes the ideal sage-ruler as someone who understands and follows Zi Ran (the nature).
From nature lovers to management gurus, a growing audience is discovering that the Laozi has something to offer them. The reception of the Tao Te Ching in modern Asia and the West falls outside the scope of this article; nevertheless, it is important to note that the Laozi should be regarded not only as a work of early Chinese philosophy but also as a classic of world literature with keen contemporary relevance.