Tao Quotes on
Non-action and Action
Quotes from the Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Here are quotes from the Tao Te Ching, the Taoist classic, about non-action and action. To see the whole quoted chapter, click the chapter link within brackets.
The sage acts by doing nothing.
Can you comprehend everything in the four directions and still do nothing?
Because he (the Sage) opposes no one, no one in the world can oppose him.
The Way is ever without action, yet nothing is left undone.
The highest virtue does nothing. Yet, nothing needs to be done. The lowest virtue does everything. Yet, much remains to be done.
The value of teaching without words and accomplishing without action is understood by few in the world.
The sage knows without traveling, perceives without looking, completes without acting.
When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.
Use justice to rule a country. Use surprise to wage war. Use non-action to govern the world.
I do not act, and people become reformed by themselves.
I am at peace, and people become fair by themselves.
I do not interfere, and people become rich by themselves.
Act without action.
Those who act will fail. Those who seize will lose.
He (the sage) wants all things to follow their own nature, but dares not act.
The sage does not act and therefore does not fail, does not seize and therefore does not lose.
Cautious, like crossing a river in the winter.
Wary, as if surrounded by strangers.
Although he travels all day, the sage never loses sight of his luggage carts.
The best way to carve is not to split.
Those who know when to halt are unharmed.
Seal the openings, shut the doors, and until your last day you will not be exhausted. Widen the openings, interfere, and until your last day you will not be safe.
The sage is sharp but does not cut, pointed but does not pierce, forthright but does not offend, bright but does not dazzle.
Pursue without interfering.
Lightly given promises must meet with little trust.
Taking things lightly must lead to big difficulties.
The sage regards things as difficult, and thereby avoids difficulty.
People fail at the threshold of success. Be as cautious at the end as at the beginning. Then there will be no failure.
Those who have the courage to dare will perish. Those who have the courage not to dare will live.
The sage’s Way is to act and not to contend.
Tao Quote Categories
Here are the 388 quotes extracted from the Tao Te ching, sorted by topics. Each quote has a reference to its chapter in the book.
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389 quotes from the foremost Taoist classic, divided into 51 prominent topics. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
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