Tao Quotes on
Moderation and Modesty

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 moderation and modesty. To see the whole quoted chapter, click the chapter link within brackets.


Filling all the way to the brim is not as good as halting in time.

Pounding an edge to sharpness will not make it last.

(The five) colors blind the eye. (The five) tones deafen the ear. (The five) flavors dull the mouth.

Racing through the field and hunting make the mind wild.

He who holds on to the Way seeks no excess. Since he lacks excess, he can grow old in no need to be renewed.

Those who stand on their toes are not steady.

Those who take long steps cannot keep the pace.

The sage avoids extremity, excess, and extravagance.

Those who know when it is enough will not perish.

Those who are content suffer no disgrace.

To have enough of enough is always enough.

Seal the openings, shut the doors, dull the sharpness, untie the knots, dim the light, become one with the dust. This is called the profound union.

When leading people and serving Heaven, nothing exceeds moderation.

The sage never strives for greatness, and can therefore accomplish greatness.

By moderation one can be generous.

Let the country be small, and the inhabitants few.


Because he (the Sage) demands no honor, he will never be dishonored.

Not praising the deserving prevents envy.

He (the Sage) does not show off, therefore he shines.

He (the Sage) does not justify himself, therefore he is revered.

He (the Sage) does not boast, therefore he is honored.

He (the Sage) does not praise himself, therefore he remains.

Those who show off do not shine.

Those who are self-righteous are not prominent.

Those who boast are not respected.

Those who praise themselves do not prevail.

The sage does not strive to be great. Thereby he can accomplish the great.

Do not strive for the shine of jade, but clatter like stone.

The sage wears coarse clothes, concealing jade.

The sage knows himself, but does not parade. He cherishes himself, but does not praise himself.

The sage acts without taking credit. He accomplishes without dwelling on it. He does not want to display his worth.

Stay Where You Are

Those who stay where they are will endure.

Without stepping out the door, you can know the world.

Without looking through the window, you can see Heavenís Way.

The longer you travel, the less you know.

They can see their neighbors. Roosters and dogs can be heard from there. Still, they will age and die without visiting one another.

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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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.