Lao Tzu was a Chinese philosopher and the founder of Taoism. Lao Tzu’s biography is sparse, so many details of his life are uncertain. The traditional story is that Lao Tzu was born around 604 B.C., during the Zhou dynasty, to an aristocratic family in the state of Chu in what is now modern-day Henan province in China. He served in government as an administrative official for about 50 years until he retired at the age of 80 to write his famous treatise on how to live life — “Tao Te Ching” — and died three years later around 531 B.C.
Actually, Lao Tzu’s name literally means Old Master or Old Boy; his surname is Li (pronounced “Lee”). A Westernized version of his name is Laozi or Lǎozǐ.
During the Spring and Autumn period (771-476 BCE), Laozi lived in the state of Chu. He may have been a court official who retired to write a book on philosophy. He is believed to have written this book during the reign of Duke Mu of Lu (ruled 540-526 BCE). Lao Tzu is said to have spent 30 years wandering the country before writing the Tao Te Ching, which became one of the main scriptures of Taoism. His teachings focused on living in harmony with nature and freeing oneself from desire (xu).
The Tao Te Ching (“Classic” or “Scripture”) was probably written around 300 BCE, but some scholars argue that it may have been written as early as 100 BCE. The text consists of 81 short chapters, each containing about 1,000 words. It was originally called Daodejing (“Classic on the Ways of Power”), but this title was changed to Tao Te Ching (“Scripture on the Way and Power”) when it became popular with followers of Laozi in the 2nd century CE.