Lao Tzu lived in China around 500 BCE. He was a man of great wisdom, recognized as a sage and a teacher. But late in his life he saw that his teachings were being disregarded and that corruption and chaos were bringing about the collapse of the kingdom. He headed west to the mountains. There resided at the pass an old gate keeper, Yin Hsi, who was also a sage. He had waited many years, knowing that one day a great man would pass through this gate. Yin Hsi ceremoniously served tea to Lao Tzu, persuading him to share his wisdom before traveling on. The words that Lao Tzu spoke were recorded and became the book known as the Tao te Ching. The word Tao can be translated as The Way, the source or essence or basic principle of the universe. The book has been translated into many languages. Some say that it is the wisest book ever written, and it is still in print in many languages around the world. Following is a brief excerpt:
There was something formless and perfect before the universe was born. It is serene. Empty. Solitary. Unchanging. Infinite. Eternally present. It flows through all things, inside and outside, and returns to the origin of all things. It is the mother of the universe. For lack of a better name, I call it the Tao.
from the TAO TE CHING by Lao Tzu