Tao Quotes on
Opposites and Paradoxes

Tao Te Ching

Authentic Quotes from the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

Here are quotes from the Tao Te Ching, the Taoist classic by Lao Tzu, about opposites and paradoxes. To see the whole quoted chapter, click the chapter link within brackets.

Opposites Attract

When everyone in the world sees beauty, then ugly exists.

What is and what is not create each other.

High and low rest on each other.

First and last follow each other.

What’s the difference between yes and no?

What’s the difference between beautiful and ugly?

Heavy is the root of light.

What should be shrunken must first be stretched.

What should be weakened must first be strengthened.

What should be abolished must first be cherished.

What should be deprived must first be enriched.

Misery is what happiness rests upon. Happiness is what misery lurks beneath.


The highest virtue is not virtuous. Therefore it has virtue. The lowest virtue holds on to virtue. Therefore it has no virtue.

The purest white seems stained.

The grandest virtue seems deficient.

The sturdiest virtue seems fragile.

The most fundamental seems fickle.

The perfect square lacks corners.

The highest tone is hard to hear.

The great image lacks shape.

Sometimes gain comes from losing, and sometimes loss comes from gaining.

What has no substance can penetrate what has no opening.

The most complete seems lacking. Yet in use it is not exhausted.

The most abundant seems empty. Yet in use it is not drained.

The most straight seems curved.

The most able seems clumsy.

The most eloquent seems to stutter.

Taste the tasteless.

Make the small big and the few many.

The Importance of Nothing

Thirty spokes are joined in the wheel’s hub. The hole in the middle makes it useful.

Mold clay into a bowl. The empty space makes it useful.

Cut out doors and windows for the house. The holes make it useful.

The value comes from what is there, but the use comes from what is not there.

Tao Quote Categories

Here are the 388 Tao quotes extracted from the Tao Te ching by Lao Tzu, sorted into 19 topics. Each Tao quote has a link to its chapter in the book.

  1. Tao, the Way Quotes

  2. Nature and the world Quotes

  3. Knowledge and wisdom Quotes

  4. Opposites and paradoxes Quotes

  5. Non-action and action Quotes

  6. Prevention and patience Quotes

  7. Moderation and modesty Quotes

  8. Humility and compassion Quotes

  9. Desire, wealth and greed Quotes

  10. Good and bad Quotes

  11. Role Models Quotes

  12. Simplicity, stillness and silence Quotes

  13. Fear and imperfection Quotes

  14. The female, child and family Quotes

  15. Yielding Quotes

  16. Rulers and government Quotes

  17. Longevity and death Quotes

  18. Seeing clearly Quotes

  19. War and violence Quotes

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.

       More about the book here.

Tao Quotes - the Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Tao Quotes

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.

       More about the book here.

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Other Books by Stefan Stenudd:

Cosmos of the Ancients. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Cosmos of the Ancients

The Greek philosophers and what they thought about cosmology, myth, and the gods. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

QI - increase your life energy. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Qi - Increase Your Life Energy

The life energy qi (also chi or ki) explained, with exercises on how to awaken, increase and use it. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

Aikido Principles. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Aikido Principles

Basic concepts of the peaceful martial art. Aikido principles, philosophy, and fundamental ideas. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

Life Energy Encyclopedia. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Life Energy Encyclopedia

Qi, prana, spirit, ruach, pneuma, and many other life forces around the world explained and compared. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

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.