Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Robert Louis Stevenson

1850 – 1894 CE

Humanist, social and political critic, poet, composer of over 120 complex musical works, 26th most translated author in the world; Stevenson grew up in a religious family of engineers frail, sickly, and alienated. His father once said, "You have rendered my whole life a failure.” Fiercely criticized by Virginia Woolf and early literary critics but praised by Borges, Proust, Arthur Conan Doyle, Hemingway, Kipling, Jack London, and Chesterton; he now ranks alongside Henry James and Joseph Conrad. In spite of physical frailty, he traveled widely and supported his writing with hard labor and a frugal lifestyle often surviving long periods living on less than 40¢/day. He saw himself, his time, and culture with a rare self-clarity that cut to the deep basic goodness manifesting in his unforgettable characters.

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Virginibus Puerisque (1881)

Quotes by Robert Louis Stevenson (20 quotes)

“Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.”

Chapters: 15. Inscrutability

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“I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can't find anybody who can tell me what they want.”

Chapters: 33. Know Yourself

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“We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.”

Chapters: 35. The Power of Goodness

Themes: Travel Friendship

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“To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.”

Chapters: 38. Fruit Over Flowers

Themes: Integrity

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“Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.”

Chapters: 44. Fame and Fortune

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“Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die.”

Chapters: 50. Claws and Swords

Themes: Death and Dying

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“It is perhaps a more fortunate destiny to have a taste for collecting shells than to be born a millionaire.”

Chapters: 53. Shameless Thieves

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“I have convinced myself (for the moment) that we had better leave these great changes to what we call great blind forces: their blindness being so much more perspicacious than the little, peering, partial eyesight of men.”

Chapters: 57. Wu Wei

Themes: Change

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“There are two things that men should never weary of, goodness and humility; we get none too much of them in this rough world among cold, proud people.”

Chapters: 61. Lying Low

Themes: Humility

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“We find not much in ourselves to admire, we are always privately wanting to be like somebody else. If everybody was satisfied with himself, there would be no heroes.”

Chapters: 62. Basic Goodness

Themes: Ambition

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“He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.”

Chapters: 67. Three Treasures

Themes: Education

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“If Christ were here there is one thing he would not be – a Christian.”

Chapters: 71. Sick of Sickness

Themes: Christianity

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“Civilization is a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessaries.”

Chapters: 75. Greed

Themes: Civilization

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“I used to think meanly of the plumber; but how he shines beside the politician!”

Chapters: 75. Greed

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“Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”

Chapters: 77. Stringing a Bow

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“Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well.”

Chapters: 81. Journey Without Goal

Themes: Skillful Means

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“Everyone lives by selling something.”

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“Perpetual devotion to what a man calls his business is only to be sustained by perpetual neglect of many other things.”

from Virginibus Puerisque (1881)

Themes: Business Karma

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“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.”

Themes: Travel Wu Wei

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“Marriage is one long conversation checkered by disputes.”

Themes: Marriage

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