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Tao Quotes on
War and Violence

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 war and violence. To see the whole quoted chapter, click the chapter link within brackets.

War and Violence

Those who advice the ruler on the Way, do not want the world subdued with weapons.

Thorn bushes grow where armies have camped.

Battles are followed by years of famine.

Weapons are ominous tools. They are abhorred by all creatures. Anyone who follows the Way shuns them.

Weapons are ominous tools. They are not the noble rulerís tools. He only uses them when he canít avoid it.

Peace and quiet are preferred. Victory should not be praised.

Those who praise victory relish manslaughter. Those who relish manslaughter cannot reach their goals in the world.

When many people are killed, they should be mourned and lamented. Those who are victorious in war should follow the rites of funerals.

Those who defeat others are strong, those who defeat themselves are mighty.

The fish cannot leave the deep waters. The stateís weaponry should not be displayed.

The forceful and violent will not die from natural causes.

When the Way governs the world, the proud stallions drag dung carriages. When the Way is lost to the world, war horses are bred outside the city.

Those who have compassion when they do battle will be victorious. Those who likewise defend themselves will be safe. Heaven will rescue and protect them with compassion.

Excellent warriors are not violent.

Excellent soldiers are not furious.

Excellent conquerors do not engage.

Warriors say: I dare not be like the host, but would rather be like the guest. I dare not advance an inch, but would rather retreat a foot.

No misfortune is worse than underestimating the enemy. Underestimating the enemy, I risk losing my treasure.

When equal armies battle, the grieving one will be victorious.

The unyielding army will not win.

When bitter enemies make peace, surely some bitterness remains.

Although there are weapons for tens and hundreds of soldiers, they will not be used.

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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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.