Reader "PMBug" (who has an interesting forum: pmbug.com (about precious metals of course) I will likely go spend some quality time there sometime soon) quotes Lao Tzu (Lao Tse, Laozi) as part of his signature line. Lao Tzu founded the Chinese religion (not a typical religion though) of Taoism in about 500 BC.
In his day he was famed for his knowledge about the way the world worked and for his insights. The legend is that when he became very old, he headed out to the deserts west of China. As he passed the last outpost, a guard asked him to write down his thoughts. That work is now known as the Tao Te Ching, and is by far the most important work in Taoism. The rest is commentary (although the founder of Confucianism is a major commentator of Taoism).
I bumped into Taoism in college (where else?) in 1976. It was "obvious" to me that there was something important there, that it had great value and great wisdom. I ran into it again when I started doing Tai Chi (8 years ago), Tai Chi has incorporated many Taoist principals into the art. My understanding of at least part of modern Taoism is that it has picked up a lot of ritual and weird stuff (men should have sex only with pretty girls who are young) that seem to have no basis in the original Tao Te Ching.
The Tao Te Ching is available at any big bookstore, but some translations "work" better (at least for me) than others. The translation I like the best is by Gia-Fu Feng (pictures by Jane English) published in 1972 (hah!) by Vantage. Just inside the cover the price was stamped. $3.95! Greatest bargain ever?
If Taoism would be of interest to any of you, dear readers, wikipedia has a great article on it if you don't want to wait around for me to finish this, FYI wikipedia has two GREAT articles that I have recently enjoyed, "The Rothschild Family" and "Absinthe", two subjects I was curious about. I copy the first paragraph from wikipedia about Taoism: is
Taoism (also spelled Daoism) refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao(道), which is everything that exists, the origin of everything and because of the latter it is also nothing. The word "Tao" (or "Dao", depending on the romanization scheme) is usually translated as "way", "path" or "principle". Taoism had not only a profound influence on the culture of China, but also on neighboring countries. While the philosophical Taoism is not institutionalized, the religious Taoism is institutionalized and present in multiple countries. Taoist philosophy is deeply rooted in contemporary China, and is unavoidable part of modern Chinese life.
Also the famous Yin-Yang symbol is based on the Tao (thanks wikipedia!)