Exploring the profound teachings of one of China’s most important philosophers.
EP81 The end of the road
Mankind strives, explores and conflicts. These all bring destruction, according to Laozi. Follow the ways of Dao, and all shall be well, he has consistently implored us.
04/01/2022 • 7 minutes 6 seconds
EP80 Welcome to paradise
In Laozi's dream life, we would all have a nice modest house, enough food, be peaceful, delight in simple pleasures, keep to ourselves, keep our minds free from unnecessary thoughts and concerns. Everyone is living in harmony and contentment.
02/01/2022 • 6 minutes 11 seconds
EP79 Game theory
True resolution of conflict allows both sides to win. There's no reason for there to be a winner and a loser, as this could create further conflict down the line.
31/12/2021 • 5 minutes 45 seconds
EP78 Water power
We know that Laozi has a love affair with water. In its manner it comes close to Dao in his thinking. The secret of water's strength is its very softness and malleability. It achieves great things through yielding, persistence and patience.
29/12/2021 • 5 minutes 50 seconds
EP77 Take from the rich and give to the poor
Laozi believes that it's important – it's the way of Dao – to adjust the inequalities in society. The rich should use some of their wealth to help the poor. In so doing they enrich the world.
27/12/2021 • 6 minutes 43 seconds
EP76 Bend in the wind
For hard and stiff, read impervious and intransigent. For soft and weak, read yielding and vulnerable. Life is full of movement and freshness. Trees can survive the gales if they sway in the wind.
25/12/2021 • 5 minutes 19 seconds
EP75 Watch your back
Laozi's message – If you are a king, watch your back. If you are a subject, hold the king to account.
23/12/2021 • 5 minutes 5 seconds
EP74 Here comes the chopper to chop off your head
Here, Laozi is saying, if you push people to the limits of their tolerance, then they no longer fear death. Your so called weapon of last resort, death, no longer works. Result: chaos.
21/12/2021 • 5 minutes 34 seconds
EP73 The net of heaven spreads far and wide
The net of Heaven spreads far and wide. In English we sometimes say ‘the long arm of the law,’ meaning punishment is inescapable.
19/12/2021 • 5 minutes 48 seconds
EP72 Beware the lord of misrule
Laozi implores rulers to follow the ways of the Dao. Don't get too comfortable in the hot seat, he chides ... nothing is forever. You ignore the lives and livelihoods of the people at your peril.
17/12/2021 • 5 minutes 2 seconds
EP71 Into the unknown
True wisdom is knowing that there is so much that you do not know, so much more to learn. Anyone who claims otherwise is self-defeating or misguided, or in Laozi's words, sick.
15/12/2021 • 5 minutes 22 seconds
EP70 The sage in coarse linen
Whilst he is revered now as a great sage, there may have been few people in his day and age who actually understood enough about him to carry on the message. Like Dao however, Laozi gave his message simply and without expectation.
13/12/2021 • 5 minutes 21 seconds
EP69 There are no winners in war
For Laozi, war and conflict is failure. To get to that point shows that both sides have moved very far away from the principal of Dao, and so there will likely be no winners.
11/12/2021 • 5 minutes 15 seconds
EP68 Fight the good fight
On the surface it may seem as though Laozi is giving advice to warriors, but his words are just as applicable to rulers, leaders, and those in charge generally. More importantly for a good leader, Laozi suggests, is knowing how to best use the people and resources that one has.
09/12/2021 • 5 minutes 9 seconds
EP67 Examine your motives
The key part of this verse is Laozi's focus on Compassion, Frugality and lack of Ambition – what he describes as his three treasures.
07/12/2021 • 6 minutes 23 seconds
EP66 Lead from behind
Laozi wants to make the analogy with a sage wishing to show leadership. Not from above or in front, but below and behind… like water weaving its way through difficult terrain, through a valley.
05/12/2021 • 5 minutes 41 seconds
EP65 The perils of knowledge
Laozi mentioned that if you overregulated the people then they would use their ingenuity to find ways to subvert your rule. So - in the spirit of Non-doing, wouldn't it be better to govern with openness, simplicity and honesty?
03/12/2021 • 6 minutes 26 seconds
EP64 A journey of a thousand miles…
This verse contains one of the best known sayings, if not THE best known saying of Laozi, which most people in the West know as ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’
01/12/2021 • 6 minutes 57 seconds
EP63 Fools rush in
In this verse, Laozi is warning against complacency. He would have made a pretty good project manager or life coach in the 21st century.
29/11/2021 • 5 minutes 37 seconds
EP62 Dao – the sanctuary for all things
Let's remind ourselves that Dao is the ultimate. It is all forgiving and values everything equally – the good and the not so good. It is a sanctuary for all.
27/11/2021 • 5 minutes 38 seconds
EP61 Win-win scenarios
In this verse, Laozi is dipping into foreign affairs. He is playing with the concept of No-Win, Zero Sum and Win-Win scenarios. This is Game Theory – millenia before it was invented.
25/11/2021 • 5 minutes 35 seconds
EP60 Cook your fish carefully
Just as you can't be heavy handed in cooking a small fish, so too a light touch is the best way to govern a large state. Laozi invokes Dao to make the point that its natural state is non-doing, non-action.
23/11/2021 • 4 minutes 52 seconds
EP59 Everything in moderation
This verse is about knowing how to act and when to act, also how much to act.
Lead in this way, and the people will follow.
21/11/2021 • 5 minutes 28 seconds
EP58 You can lead a horse to water, but cannot make him drink
Our philosopher has advice for anyone who would become a sage. Be sharp, but don't cut. Be pointed but don't pierce. Be outspoken, but don't offend. Lead by example, but then let your audience decide for themselves.
19/11/2021 • 7 minutes 2 seconds
EP57 The curse of desire
In this verse our philosopher has what seems to be advice to rulers. Keep things nicely down the middle – ‘the proper norm.’
17/11/2021 • 6 minutes 32 seconds
EP56 Nothing to shout about
Here Laozi is saying, live a simple life, and turn your back on personal gain, personal relations and social status. Be content with your progress on the journey. No need to shout about it. Nothing to see here.
15/11/2021 • 5 minutes 52 seconds
EP55 Guard your precious Qi
Laozi warns against squandering Qi. It's almost as though he is saying that there is a limited amount in our bodies. Use it up, and you will grow old too soon and die young.
13/11/2021 • 6 minutes 11 seconds
EP54 Search for the answer within
Laozi is saying that you don't need to look far to understand the actions of others, family, villages, states and even the way of the universe. Start by understanding yourself. Understanding starts by observing yourself.
11/11/2021 • 6 minutes 38 seconds
EP53 Ditch the bling
Who needs all these fancy things, when you have the most wonderous thing of all – Dao.
09/11/2021 • 5 minutes 30 seconds
EP52 There is nothing new under the Sun
There is nothing to be gained from the outside world. Do the opposite and you will be troubled by strife for all your days. Back to the essential message. Find the answer in the small… the fragile … the near at hand.
07/11/2021 • 6 minutes 51 seconds
EP51 The tree of life
For Laozi, everything is simply in some form of process, still part of the lifecycle. See it as a vast family tree that leads all the way back from the Ten Thousand things, right back to the One.
05/11/2021 • 5 minutes 58 seconds
EP50 Don't worry, be happy
Laozi's advice is not dissimilar to contemporary views that sometimes you make you yourself so busy that you don’t have time to enjoy yourself, to truly enjoy existence.
03/11/2021 • 5 minutes 38 seconds
EP49 Teach by example
It's the exact same process of setting aside your own needs and desires in favour of others. And if they do wrong then you forgive them. You turn the other cheek. You are teaching by example.
01/11/2021 • 5 minutes 21 seconds
EP48 Close the book, open the mind
For Laozi there is danger in too much knowledge. It can fill up the mind, and trap you into certain beliefs and actions.
30/10/2021 • 5 minutes 1 second
EP47 Travel narrows the mind
Don't confuse your mind with things that don't matter. Seek the tranquility of inner peace and knowledge. Hence – the farther you travel, the less you know.
28/10/2021 • 4 minutes 54 seconds
EP46 Enough is enough
Laozi is returning to the concept of the triumph of need over want. It's vitally important to know when enough is enough.
26/10/2021 • 4 minutes 8 seconds
EP45 Appearances aren't everything
Laozi says that we often have a flawed view of what we see, maybe because we choose to see things that way.
24/10/2021 • 4 minutes 50 seconds
EP44 More is less
If you have more than you truly need, then you have more to lose. Humility and restraint are the key.
22/10/2021 • 4 minutes 56 seconds
EP43 Teaching without words
Here Laozi is suggesting that sometimes the best course of action is to do nothing.
20/10/2021 • 5 minutes 21 seconds
EP42 One for all, and all for one
All things stem from Dao. And everything created is connected and interdependent.
18/10/2021 • 4 minutes 54 seconds
EP41 Pulling the rug from under our feet
Don't try to put your finger on Dao – it's not possible. Just remember that it is bountiful and leads us to everything.
16/10/2021 • 7 minutes 29 seconds
EP40 Something from nothing
Here Laozi comes back to the concept of Non-being. Everything we see around us has a pedigree. But there was a time when something came from nothing. The cycle had to begin.
14/10/2021 • 4 minutes 55 seconds
EP39 No man is an island
No man is an Island, entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent… send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.
12/10/2021 • 8 minutes 13 seconds
EP38 The future is now
Laozi is offering us a warning about the future. Or rather, he is saying – live in the now. Dao isn't about the future – it's about the here and now.
10/10/2021 • 9 minutes 7 seconds
EP37 Curb your desires
Greed, hunger for power, for fame and fortune are all desires, but not needs. For Laozi, nothing is to be gained by giving in to your desires.
08/10/2021 • 6 minutes 26 seconds
EP36 Weakness is strength
Here Laozi is trying to get across the truism that when something reaches an extreme, it is self-defeating. He sees it as an inevitable law of opposites.
06/10/2021 • 6 minutes 3 seconds
EP35 Believe what you can't see
In this verse Laozi is asking us to trust him, as a sage, who is showing us the way, even though we may not sense it in any way. Stop trying to ascribe attributes to Dao. That’s very human. Just be aware of its bounty.
04/10/2021 • 4 minutes 48 seconds
EP34 Be like Dao – seek the answers within
The answers Laozi so often suggests are to be found within, through the cultivation of our thoughts rather than practical deeds.
02/10/2021 • 5 minutes 16 seconds
EP33 Handy guide to a happy life
In this verse, we have a very handy little guide to living a fulfilled life. But it's important to tread carefully to understand the nuances of his message.
30/09/2021 • 5 minutes 15 seconds
EP32 The cycle of life
It is about the nature of Dao. A little like the endless circularity of the water cycle – the sea creates clouds which drift over mountains, which cause the water within to be released, which becomes streams and rivers that ultimately flow back into the sea, and so it all starts again.
28/09/2021 • 5 minutes 41 seconds
EP31 Keep left
Laozi's favour rests with the left – live in peace, reject violence. Sometimes violence may be necessary. He qualifies his words by saying ‘in times of peace,’ this is the way to see things. If violence is necessary, be expedient. Don’t glory in it.
26/09/2021 • 7 minutes
EP30 War and peace
For this verse, Laozi is continuing a theme he started in the last one. Action, here force, will get you nowhere. Taking is a path to failure.
24/09/2021 • 5 minutes 28 seconds
EP29 Busy doing nothing
In this verse, Laozi is suggesting that rulers should let things be and refrain from leaning in on the side of any extreme. Sometimes the best course of action is to do nothing. Don't strive to be anything other than what you are.
22/09/2021 • 5 minutes 45 seconds
EP28 The power of innocence
Innocence is a place we have been before as a baby or a child. But just as Dao ebbs and flows, and has no end, so we too can return to that innocent state.
20/09/2021 • 5 minutes 42 seconds
EP27 There's always more to learn, and more to teach
Those who are good – or good at something, should teach those who are less good. Those less good, serve as object lessons to those teaching them. Each is learning from the other. Knowledge is a scale, and teaching is a process, a chain. And that process goes both ways.
18/09/2021 • 6 minutes 47 seconds
EP26 On a long journey, even a straw weighs heavy
Here Laozi is warning against being bogged down by possessions or being too ambitious or perhaps even fighting on too many fronts. A modest existence mentally and physically is easier to control. Be satisfied with your lot. Seek nothing else, simply for the sake of seeking.
16/09/2021 • 5 minutes 13 seconds
EP25 The fab four
Dao is prime. It is female in the sense of producing, giving birth, creating, ever fertile. It is constantly moving, affecting everything in the universe, flowing and returning like waves in the ocean. Then come Heaven and Earth in that order, and both following the ways of Dao. Finally, mankind. Great, and yet definitely at the whim of Dao, Heaven and Earth.
14/09/2021 • 7 minutes 54 seconds
EP24 Be a lean machine
Laozi's lesson is – grandstanding, seeking fame and fortune, being an influencer comes to nothing in the end.
12/09/2021 • 5 minutes 36 seconds
EP23 Save your breath
Learn to accept the way things are – save your breath. And be content with your own personal choices. They may be right, they may be wrong. But once made, they are the only choice.
10/09/2021 • 6 minutes 4 seconds
EP22 Flexibility is key
What is being said here is ‘bend yourself backwards and follow the crowd, do not resist, and you will remain intact’. Essentially… if you remain rigid and unyielding in life, then you will most likely face conflict and even be broken.
08/09/2021 • 5 minutes 25 seconds
EP21 The Great De
The Great De is totally in tune with Dao. It's everywhere yet nowhere, is everything and nothing, has form and is formless and most crucially, carries the truth.
06/09/2021 • 6 minutes 25 seconds
EP20 Watching the world go by
Roaming free and aloof, unmoved by people around him enjoying themselves and feasting, Laozi sees richness in wanting nothing. He is nourished by the Dao.
04/09/2021 • 7 minutes 46 seconds
EP19 Back to basics
Seek simplicity. People will find their own way. Don't be high and mighty. If you have nothing to steal, then you cannot be robbed.
02/09/2021 • 7 minutes 2 seconds
EP18 Life without Dao
Laozi argues that if you turn your back on the Dao, then all these human constructs will come flooding back in.
31/08/2021 • 5 minutes 30 seconds
EP17 Fools rush in, where angels fear to tread
Spare your words – act only when truly necessary. Like water, let the course of events find its own way.
29/08/2021 • 5 minutes 16 seconds
EP16 Set yourself free
Relax – ignore the outside world, the human world of trouble and strife. Bring your attention down to the very basic – Dao. Do that, and you will be free from problems.
27/08/2021 • 6 minutes 12 seconds
EP15 The Conquest of Expectations
Exploring the profound teachings of one of China’s most important philosophers.
25/08/2021 • 6 minutes 18 seconds
EP14 Grasping the Intangible
Look beyond the now – grasp the concept of Dao. See that it has always been and always will be. In fact Dao does not recognise time. Past, present, future is all one.
23/08/2021 • 6 minutes 16 seconds
EP13 To thine own self be true
In this verse, Laozi is suggesting that anything you do – do it for yourself, for your own reasons... don't second guess what other people want.
That way leads to disaster.
21/08/2021 • 6 minutes 38 seconds
EP12 Don't bite off more than you can chew!
In this verse Laozi is warning us not to be distracted by the physical... it's so easy to wallow in earthly pleasures, but at the end of the day, it won't make you happy. True happiness comes from within.
19/08/2021 • 5 minutes 11 seconds
EP11 Less is more!
Repeating in this verse is the concept of Nothing – Wu – not just as a concept of 'No Thing' but also that which surrounds and facilitates things.
17/08/2021 • 5 minutes 27 seconds
EP10 Keeping it Simple
In short – keep life – internal and external – as simple as possible.
15/08/2021 • 6 minutes 28 seconds
EP9 Quit while the going is good
In this ninth saying, Laozi is sounding a warning bell about human nature. Beware of insatiable desires, especially when fortune smiles upon you. The pursuit of wealth and power will inevitably lead to doom and disaster, he warns.
13/08/2021 • 5 minutes 18 seconds
EP8 Go with the flow
This verse discusses what is good by making that comparison with water. Behave like water, and you will spread goodness.
11/08/2021 • 5 minutes 39 seconds
EP7 The first shall be the last, and the last the first.
Here in this verse, Laozi is urging us to take a lesson from the natural world. He notes that Heaven and Earth expend no energy or thought in keeping up their existence. They just are. They don't need to try.
09/08/2021 • 4 minutes 35 seconds
EP6 Introducing Mother Nature
Laozi invokes the Spirit of the Valley, Mother Nature, bountiful, infinite.
He relates it to the profound female. He recognizes its appreciation as a gateway to Dao and notes the humility of its service to mankind.
07/08/2021 • 5 minutes 9 seconds
EP5 Straw Dogs
Keep to the path – the way – the Dao. Don't use up valuable brain power with things that neither matter nor concern you. Be at peace with Non-Doing.
05/08/2021 • 5 minutes 12 seconds
EP4 Dao is endless
Dao is everywhere, in all things, has no beginning and no end, and potentially is the gift that keeps on giving.
03/08/2021 • 5 minutes 52 seconds
EP3 The Secret of Success
Empty the mind of concerns … meaning free it from desire and want. Fill the belly – Top up the mind with positive thought. Weaken the will – don't give in to pointless desires. Strengthen the bones – build a mind and body that is healthy.
01/08/2021 • 5 minutes 40 seconds
EP2 Laozi’s Theory of Relativity
The Dao doesn't create good and bad, ugly and beautiful, happy and sad. Laozi is trying to help us see the interdependence of these self - imposed opposites.
30/07/2021 • 7 minutes 47 seconds
EP1 Taking the first step on our amazing journey
In our opening verse, Laozi is getting us ready. He's setting out the ground rules, and preparing to raise the curtain on something truly profound, inclusive, original, intangible, and ineffable. Roll up, roll up - Welcome to the ‘Gateway to all mysteries.’
28/07/2021 • 13 minutes 30 seconds
The Sayings of Laozi
Exploring the profound teachings of one of China’s most important philosophers.