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Tao-te Ching (The Book of the Way and its Power). A work attributed to Lao-tzu (hence reference to it as Lao-tzu), foundation text of Taoism. It is made up of 5,000 pictograms, hence the title, Text of the Five Thousand Signs. Trad. dated to 6th cent. BCE, it is more likely to come from 4th/3rd cent.; the oldest existing copy is c.200 BCE. The text expounds the Tao as the unproduced and inexpressible source of all appearance, which nevertheless becomes manifest through Te, through proper understanding of which the return to, and union with, Tao becomes possible.