Lao Tzu, one of the greatest Chinese masters to live many centuries ago, created the Four Cardinal Virtues, or rules of living. When practiced, they can provide a life of true peace and purpose. Lao Tzu believed that centering one’s life around these virtues would allow one to access true wisdom from the universe, and align oneself with Source energy.
“When you succeed in connecting your energy with the divine realm through high awareness and the practice of undiscriminating virtue, the transmission of the ultimate subtle truths will follow.” Lao Tzu
Lao Tzu literally means ‘Old Master,’ and many believed he had attained the highest state of consciousness available to man, which would make him a God-realized being. You can find the Four Cardinal Virtues in the Tao Te Ching, a religious text full of Taoist teachings and principles. The Tao (also known as the Way or the Dao) contains ancient universal wisdom laid out in a very cryptic yet profound format which invites seekers of wisdom to go within and find spirituality through their own interpretations of the book.
If you find yourself seeking answers to life’s questions and want to impart on a spiritual journey, you might want to refer to Lao Tzu’s ancient teachings to help guide you through the chaos of the world into a place of true peace.
Here are Lao Tzu’s spiritual rules for living:
“To realize the constancy and steadiness in your life is to realize the deep nature of the universe. This realization is not dependent on any transitory internal or external condition, rather it is an expression of one’s own immutable spiritual nature. The only way to attain the Universal Way is to maintain the integral virtues of the constancy, steadiness and simplicity in one’s daily life.” – Lao Tzu
1. Reverence for all Life
The first cardinal rule states that we should respect all forms of life in creation, and not seek to dominate or control them. We first must love and honor ourselves, and then this love will flow outwardly toward all beings. In this world, we must depend on other life forms for sheer survival, and this means we must treat them with respect, kindness, and gratitude. Lao Tzu believed we can all live in peace and harmony if we remember this spiritual rule of living first.
2. Natural Sincerity
This virtue manifests as honesty, simplicity, and authenticity. It basically states to stay true to who you really are, and not allow outside forces to sway you. Own your true nature, and don’t let others tell you who to be. Once we can come into a place of realness and sincerity, we can begin to understand what we need to remain happy and peaceful, and we can extend this to include others who might struggle along their path as well. Live in your truth, and everything else will fall into place. Plus, you’ll inspire others along the way to also show their true selves and live authentically. Allow your thoughts and actions to align, and you’ll come to know the meaning of sincerity.
In the world we live in today, we greatly need this virtue to be practiced more often. Gentleness means simply being kind to all life, and not coming from a place of egoistic desires. When we practice gentleness, we give up the need to be right, because being kind is more important than being correct. When we’re sensitive to other people’s needs and throw away the desire to control or dominate them, we can live in harmony with one another. Many people mistake being gentle and kind as being weak, but this is only because we live in a world full of inflated egos. Practice gentleness, and you’ll awaken yourself and the world to what truly matters.
“Gentleness generally implies that you no longer have a strong ego-inspired desire to dominate or control others, which allows you to move into a rhythm with the universe. You cooperate with it, much like a surfer who rides with the waves instead of trying to overpower them. Gentleness means accepting life and people as they are, rather than insisting that they be as you are. As you practice living this way, blame disappears and you enjoy a peaceful world.” – Wayne Dyer
“My religion is very simple, my religion is kindness.” – Dalai Lama
This virtue implies that we need to support all life forms, including ourselves. When we first attend to supporting ourselves, we can more easily help others we encounter along our life’s journey. This final cardinal virtue states to love and serve all, regardless of what we can get from it. We can shift from a place of receiving into a place of giving without wondering what we can get in return. This virtue comes naturally to us, but this world we’ve been born into tells us to focus on ourselves and become happier. In reality, many people do not feel fulfilled following this path. So, by putting ourselves aside and living to serve others, we may find a life of true purpose and joy by striving to make other people’s lives a little easier.