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Laozi's Creative Use of The Concept of Dao

The Laozi was the first book to elaborate on the concept of 'Dao'

Laozi, whose surname was Li and whose name was Er, lived during the Spring and Autumns period. He left to posterity a book of approx. 5000 characters, divided into two chapters, which people called the 'Laozi', meaning Venerable Master. After the Tang dynasty, it was called the Perfect Book of Dao and its Virtue ( 道德真經 Daode Zhenjing ). In this book, Dao is considered as the origin of the world, and hence is regarded as the highest final category. Laozi considered Dao to be an undifferentiated whole which existed prior to the creation of Heaven and Earth: "it is made of undifferentiated substance, and was born before Heaven and Earth". From it are derived Heaven, Earth and all beings. Laozi gave a complete description of the different attributes of Dao. His thought was later greatly elaborated by his successors. From the pre-Qin era onwards, Daoist philosophers engaged in a great many reflections and discussions on Laozi's ideas: over one thousand commentaries were written on the Laozi alone, while even more works were written based on his ideas. Hence, expositions of Dao are rich and varied.