According to the historian Sima Qian, Confucius visited Lao Tzu when he was keeper of the Royal Archives in Wangcheng and posed a question regarding the ritual ceremonies associated with the monarchs of old.
Lao-Tzu is reported to have told him: “These ancient kings you admire so have been dead a long while not. Their flesh is gone, and their bones are dust; only their words remain. The wise among them were paraded in chariots when times were good and crept away quietly when times were bad. It is said that merchants will hide their wealth so their stores appear empty, and that, similarly, the wise act dull so as not to call attention to themselves. My advice to you is to dispense with your pride and ambition; they will avail you nothing. That is all I have to say.”
Later, Confucius told his disciples that meeting Lao-Tzu was like encountering a dragon.