The Tao Te Ching is my all time favorite philosophical work. It was written around the 6th century BC by a Chinese sage named Lao Tzu, who was a record keeper for the Zhou Dynasty court. The text forms the backbone of Taoist philosophy. It’s an easy read, not too long, yet it is crammed full of philosophical goodness.
The reason why I love this work so much is that it complements the lessons taught by the Austrian school of economics. Where Austrian economics provides us the logical rigor to assess the best way of increasing human prosperity, the Tao Te Ching takes a spiritual path to arrive at the same conclusions.
2600 years ago this brilliant philosopher recognized that peace and voluntarism are the way of great nations, and by letting go of our desire for control, human prosperity will flourish. Understanding and abiding by the lessons taught in the Tao Te Ching not only leads to individual happiness, but also universal prosperity.
“Tao” essentially translates into “way,” so when reading the Tao, substitute “way” or “the virtuous path” or “the nameless divine” for the word Tao and it will begin to make more sense to you.
“Stop trying to control. Let go of fixed plans and concepts, and the world will govern itself.
The more prohibitions you have, the less virtuous people will be. The more weapons you have, the less secure people will be. The more subsidies you have, the less self-reliant people will be.
Therefore the Master says: I let go of the law, and people become honest. I let go of economics, and people become prosperous. I let go of religion, and people become serene. I let go of all desire for the common good, and the good becomes common as grass.”