The Tao Te Ching is a classical Chinese text. Though the author and date of composition are still not confirmed, the work was most likely written by Lao Tzu. Lao Tzu, also spelled Laozi, is the father of Taoism. He was a philosopher, a writer, and a deity in Taoism and other ancient Chinese religions. Most people believe that Laozi lived in the 6th century BCE, along with Confucius, but he may have lived later, in the 4th or 5th century BCE.
The title can be translated into “the classic of the way’s virtues” or “the book of the way of virtue.” Tao means “the way,” which in Taoism refers to the essentially indescribable process of the universe. Te means “virtue” or “integrity” which also includes moral purity and excellence or goodness. Ching means a “great book” or a “classic.”
The Tao Te Ching is a text that many Chinese scholars refer to with regard to philosophical and religious questions about Taoism. In addition, this work influenced other schools such as Legalism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. The Taoist concepts and ideals within the work have inspired many artists, both Chinese and worldwide.