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Inaugural Lao Tzu International Forum Opens
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The first international forum on Lao Tzu, known as China's "father of philosophy", opened Tuesday in Lanzhou, capital of northwest China's Gansu Province.

Under the theme "Nature, Science and Harmony", the forum will investigate the essence and relevancy to modern life of Lao Tzu's teachings based on his work Tao Te Ching, said Gao Zhanxiang, a member of the National Committee of the CPPCC and chairman of Chinese Culture Promotion Association.

Attended by 120 experts and scholars from over 40 countries and regions, the conference will make a declaration on the status, influence and future development of Lao Tzu's culture, Gao said.

Lao Tzu, the first philosopher in Chinese history and father of Taoism, was born 2,500 years ago in the Zhou Dynasty (11th Century B.C -- 221 B.C.), said Zhang Bingyu, an official in charge of foreign affairs.

"The reason for holding the forum in Gansu was that Lao Tzu was said to have flown up to heaven from Linzhao in Gansu, making it a pilgrimage center for Taoists," Zhang said.

Tao Te Ching, the universal Taoist textbook written with only 5,000 ancient Chinese characters, contains the quintessential spirit of Chinese thought and philosophy, Zhang said.

It had been translated into dozens of languages and studied by thousands of scholars worldwide, Zhang said.

Lao Tzu's only work has more than 250 different editions and hundreds of millions of copies in circulation, second only to the Bible in religious volumes, according to UNESCO.

(Xinhua News Agency November 22, 2006)

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