The Tao Te Ching (also called “The Tao”, “The Dao” or the “Dao De Jing”), by Lao Tzu, is one of the most influential books in history. It is the source of famous Chinese sayings such as “Those who know do not speak, those who speak, do not know” and “Even a 1,000 mile journey starts with a single step”
According to Ch’ien, Lao-tzu was born in the state of Ch’u, and his birthplace was in the nowadays Ho-nan province. He was a curator at the Royal Library when he met Confucius to talk about rites. This conversation offers much insight into the huge differences between Taoists and Confucians.
Lao-tzu surname was Li; his name was Erh (meaning ear) – this is why we find him also under the name of Li Erh.
As for the name “Lao-tzu” it is only a nickname meaning the Old Philosopher of Sage.
Disguised with the morals at the royal court, Lao-tzu would left and gone West. He met the Guardian of the Pass who asked him to compose a book. This is how Tao-te ching took birth.
“Lao-tzu cultivated the Tao and its attributes – wrote Ch’ien in his Records – the chief aim of his studies being how to keep himself concealed and remain unknown.”
Lao-tzu’s Death: These notes are almost all we have about Lao-tzu’s life, work and thinking. There’s no further indication concerning the life of the sage in the West; he simply gets out of our sight the minute he passes the boundary of the state of Ch’u.
Surprisingly enough, a story from Chuang-tzu still offers us details about Lao-tzu’s death. This story described the funerals of the master with many grieving disciples.