Tao Quotes on
Non-action and Action

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 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.

Careful Action

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 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.

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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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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.