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The author of the "Dao De Jing" (Tao Te Ching), Lao Tzu, kept the Imperial Archives of the Court of Chou, in the province of Honan in the sixth century, B.C. Some historical records indicate that he had personally instructed Confucius and was an elderly contemporary, although others claim that he passed away before the birth of Confucius.
Lao Tzu, thoughout his life, taught that "The Dao that can be told, is not the eternal Dao", as is referenced within his writings. According to legend, when Lao Tzu was about to retire from public service, he mounted a horse and began riding west into the desert regions of China. When the guardian of the pass to the province of Ch'in requested that he write down his thoughts so that it could be passed on to mankind, Lao Tzu sat down for two days and wrote the "Dao De Jing". After turning over the works to the guardian, he rode into the desert, never to be seen from again.
In its original form, the "Dao De Jing" is believed to have consisted of eighty-one short chapters, arranged in two sections, known as the 'Dao Jing' and the 'De Jing'. The first of these scrolls was thirty-seven chapters, and the second was forty-four chapters. The essence of Daoism is contained in these eighty-one chapters (roughly 5,000 words) which, for 2,500 years, has provided a major influence in Chinese thought and culture.
This scholar called "Lao Tze" most likely had another name, because the characters for Lao Tze also mean "old man" or sometimes translated as "old scholar". The same characters in Japanese are reserved for a master of Zen teachings, pronounced as "roshi" in that language. Although there are many who disagree with who wrote the "Dao De Jing", and perhaps even when it was written, there is virtually no dissent among scholars as to its value as a literary and philosophical work for all of humans.
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