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Tao Quotes on
Humility and Compassion

Quotes from the Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

Tao Te Ching

Here are quotes from the Tao Te Ching, the Taoist classic, about humility and compassion. To see the whole quoted chapter, click the chapter link within brackets.

Lowering Oneself - Humility

The sage puts himself last and becomes the first.

Supreme good is like water. Water greatly benefits all things, without conflict. It flows through places that people loathe. Thereby it is close to the Way.

Open, like a valley.

Other people are joyous, like on the feast of the ox, like on the way up to the terrace in the spring. I alone am inert, giving no sign, like a newborn baby who has not learned to smile.

I am wearied, as if I lacked a home to go to.

Other people have more than they need, I alone seem wanting.

Only I am clumsy, like drifting on the waves of the sea, without direction.

Other people are occupied, I alone am unwilling, like the outcast.

Knowing the bright, but clinging to the dark, you become a model to the world.

Knowing honor, but clinging to disgrace, you become the valley of the world.

The high must make the low its base.

The highest virtue seems as low as a valley.

If the sage wants to stand above people, he must speak to them from below. If he wants to lead people, he must follow them from behind.

Benevolence and Compassion

The highest benevolence acts without purpose.

The sage has no concern for himself, but makes the concerns of others his own.

People turn their eyes and ears to him (the sage), and the sage cares for them like his own children.

See others as yourself. See families as your family. See towns as your town. See countries as your country. See worlds as your world.

Return animosity with virtue.

I have three treasures that I cherish. The first is compassion. The second is moderation. The third is not claiming to be first in the world.

By compassion one can be brave.

The sage honors his part of the settlement, but does not exact his due from others.

Heavenís Way is to benefit and not to harm.

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.

My Taoism Books:

Tao Te Ching - The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. Book by Stefan Stenudd.
Tao Te Ching

The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. The great Taoist philosophy classic by Lao Tzu translated, and each of the 81 chapters extensively commented. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

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Tao Quotes - the Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. Book by Stefan Stenudd.
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The Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. 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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Stefan Stenudd, Swedish author of fiction and non-fiction. Stefan Stenudd

About me

I'm a Swedish author and aikido instructor. In addition to fiction, I've written books about Taoism and other East Asian traditions. I'm also an historian of ideas, researching ancient thought and mythology. Click the image to get to my personal website.