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Founded in prehistoric times and described by the philosopher Lao Zi, who lived about 600 BC. He believed in a life of contemplation and passivity. Tao is the chinese word for ‘path’ or ‘way’, and refers to the path of contentment and withdrawal which Lao Zi declared should be chosen above the path of selfishness. Lao Zi’s beliefs and sayings are contained in the Tao-Te Ching (‘The Classic of the Way and its Virtue’).
Very little is known about the author of the Tao-Te Ching, which is attributed to Lao Zi. According to the historian Sima Qian who wrote about 100 BC, Lao Zi lived during the sixth century BC in the state of Chu in China and in the imperial capital Luoyang. Lao Zi was reputed to have held the office of shi, which in ancient China meant a keeper of the archives and sacred books.