Study Guide

Tao Te Ching Summary

By Lao Tzu

Tao Te Ching Summary

The Tao Te Ching is basically everybody's handy guide to Taoism. These eighty-one short chapters cover the ways of the "Way" and lay out all the main ideas of one of the world's most old-school philosophies.

The main attraction in the TTC is the Tao itself, which is the great flow of everything—like everything. The Tao is the mysterious, unnamable process through which everything in the Universe happens. Throughout the book, the great Tao is held up as an example of how we all should try to live our lives.

The TTC tells us that the Tao has a ton of virtues; it's humble, non-judgmental, generous, flexible, and peaceful (for the most part). The Tao is also the master at wu wei, or "unattached action," and if a person practices this as well, they can effortlessly succeed in life. In the mind of the TTC, it's only through personal discipline and by releasing desire that we can find these virtues and reach enlightenment in oneness with the Tao.