(c. 6th Century BC)
"I do not concern myself with gods and spirits either good or evil nor do I serve any."
Lao-Tzu was the appointed Keeper of the Imperial Archives by the King of Zhou in Luoyang in China. During this time, he studied archive's books and was possibly an instructor to Confucius (founder of Confucianism). Later, when the kingdom began to fall, he traveled west. In his travels, he crossed a mountain pass and met Yin Hsi, the guardian of the pass. Yin Hsi, who is claimed to be Lao-Tzu's first disciple, concluded him to be divine and asked to receive his teachings. Lao-Tzu spoke the Five Thousand Words which Yin Hsi wrote down. These teachings are the Tao Te Ching (The Way and its Power), the sacred text of Taoism today. After giving these teachings, Lao-Tzu left and was never heard from again.
TAOISM: The philosophical system evolved by Lao-Tzu and Chuang-Tzu, advocating a life of complete simplicity and naturalness and of noninterference with the course of natural events, in order to attain a happy existence in harmony with the Tao (the basic, eternal principle of the universe that transcends reality and is the source of being, non-being, and change).
Followers of Taoism: Less than 1% of the world's population (note).
Authoritative Texts: Book of the Way and Its Virtue (Tao-te ching) contains:
• 5,000 pictograms, written to a sage king, to be a handbook for the ruler.
• the importance of being in harmony with the Tao (the source of all things) without striving, as nature operates: passively, quietly, in a natural rhythm, rather than following rules of propriety.
Authors: Lao-Tzu spoke the Five Thousand Words which Yin Hsi wrote down.