Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Heshang Gong 河上公

(Ho-shang Kung or "Riverside Sage”)

202 – 157 BCE

One of the two most famous commentators on the Tao Te Ching, Heshang Gong was one of the first to emphasize Taoist yoga and meditation practices. Not only meant to explain, he stressed the practical implications and ways Lao Tzu’s wisdom can guide and enrich everyday life. Almost every commentary since has used his as a foundation. He merged Lao Tzu’s political and ethical teachings into a guide for both individuals and emperors.

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Lao-tzu-chu

Quotes by Heshang Gong (30 quotes)

“Once plants reach their height of development, they wither. Once people reach their peak, they grow old. Force does not prevail for long. It isn’t the Tao. What is withered and old cannot follow the Tao. And what cannot follow the Tao soon dies.”

from Lao-tzu-chu

Chapters: 55. Forever Young

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“A dragon is still. Hence, it is able to constantly transform itself. A tiger is restless. Hence it dies young.”

from Lao-tzu-chu

Chapters: 26. The Still Rule the Restless

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“About what has no color, sound, or form; mouths can’t speak and books can’t teach… We cannot find it through investigation.”

from Lao-tzu-chu

Chapters: 14. Finding and Following the Formless Form

Themes: Books

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“Dark Virtue are so deep they can’t be fathomed, so distant they can’t be reached, and always do the opposite of others. They give to others, while others think only of themselves.”

Chapters: 65. Simplicity: the Hidden Power of Goodness

Themes: Virtue

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“Heaven gives, earth transforms and man nurtures.”

Chapters: 42. Children of the Way

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“If someone can conquer others, it is only by using force. If someone can conquer their own desires, no one in the world can compete with them. Hence we call them strong.”

Chapters: 33. Know Yourself

Themes: Competition

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“If you cook a small fish, don’t remove its entrails, don’t scrape off its scales, and don’t stir it. If you do, it will turn to mush. Likewise, too much government makes those below rebel.”

Chapters: 60. Less is More

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“It’s because Heaven becomes one that it graces the sky with constellations and light. It’s because Earth becomes one that it remains still and immovable… It’s because kings become one that they pacify the world. But Heaven must move between yin and yang.”

Chapters: 39. Oneness

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“Others learn how to govern the world. Sages learn how to govern themselves and how to uphold the truth of the Way.”

Chapters: 64. Ordinary Mind

Themes: Government

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“Sages… treat the people as if they were their children. Thus, the whole world wants them for their leaders. The people never grow tired of them because sages don’t struggle against them. Everyone struggles against something but no one struggles against those who don’t struggle against anything.”

Chapters: 66. Go Low

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“The ‘One’ in Ho-shang Kung’s commentary means the essence of Tao… the ‘One’ is the ‘key’ or ‘kernal’ of the Way.”

Chapters: 39. Oneness

Themes: Oneness

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“The best people are like water… empty, clear, and deep…Water can take any shape, and it is never out of touch”

Chapters: 8. Like Water

Themes: Water

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“The rich should help the poor, and the powerful should aid the oppressed. If instead they flaunt their riches and power, they are sure to suffer disaster…When your work is done, if you do not step down, you will meet with harm.”

Chapters: 9. Know When to Stop

Themes: Wealth

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“The Tao gives birth to the beginning. One gives birth to yin and yang. Yin and yang give birth to the breath between them,the mixture of clear and turbid. These three breaths divide themselves into Heaven, Earth, and Humankind and together give birth to the ten thousand things.”

Chapters: 42. Children of the Way

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“The Tao is great because there is nothing it does not encompass… It gives without seeking a reward it nourishes all creatures and takes nothing for itself… the nature of the Tao is to be itself. It does not imitate anything else.”

Chapters: 25. The Mother of All Things

Themes: One Taste

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“The Way of Heaven is so dark, we need metaphors to understand it
To prepare a bow for use, we string it by pulling down the top and lifting up the bottom.
Likewise, the Way of Heaven is to take from the strong and give to the weak.”

Chapters: 77. Stringing a Bow

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“This sets out the way of military strategy. Lao Tzu was disgusted with the use of military force at the time. Thus he took up himself to explain its principles.”

Chapters: 31. Victory Funeral

Themes: Strategy

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“Those who are able to practice being incomplete… suffer no harm.”

Chapters: 22. Heaven's Door

Themes: Less is More

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“Those who are good at walking find the Way within themselves, not somewhere outside.”

Chapters: 27. No Trace

Themes: Moral Freedom

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“Those who can see what is small and hold on to it are rare indeed.”

Chapters: 32. Uncontrived Awareness

Themes: Less is More

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“Those who honor the Way and Virtue… are angered by nothing. They use kindness among neighbors and virtue among strangers. They conquer their enemies without fighting and command through humility.”

Chapters: 68. Joining Heaven & Earth

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“Those who know, value deeds not words. A team of horses can’t overtake the tongue. More talk means more problems.”

Chapters: 56. One with the Dust

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“We cultivate the Tao in the world by letting things change without giving orders Lao-tzu asks how we know that those who cultivate the Tao prosper and those who ignore the Tao perish. We know by comparing those who don’t cultivate the Tao with those who do.”

Chapters: 54. Planting Well

Themes: Integrity

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“What doesn’t exist’ refers to the Tao. The Tao has no form or substance… We don’t see it do anything,and yet the ten thousand things are transformed and completed.”

Chapters: 43. No Effort, No Trace

Themes: Emptiness

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“When sages govern great states, they think of them as small states and are frugal in the use of resources. When the people are many, sages think of them as few and are careful not to exhaust them.”

Chapters: 80. A Golden Age

Themes: Shambhala

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“When the country is at peace, no one thinks about kindness and the people are free from desire. When the Tao prevails, kindness and justice vanish like the stars fading when the sun appears.”

Chapters: 18. The Sick Society

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“When those above treat those below with dishonesty, those below respond with deceit.”

Chapters: 17. True Leaders

Themes: Deception

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“Whenever the mouth opens and the tongue moves, disaster is close behind.”

Chapters: 5. Christmas Trees

Themes: Less is More

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“Yielding is being free of self-interest. Being free of self-interest is ruling the world. Ruling the world is merging personal virtue with that of Heaven and doing this is being one with the Way.”

Chapters: 16. Returning to the Root, Meditation

Themes: Integrity

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“Sages understand other individuals by understanding themselves. They understand other families by understanding their own family and therefor understand the whole world.”

Themes: Know Yourself

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Quotes about Heshang Gong (1 quotes)

“Taoist master who lived in a hut beside the Yellow River—hence his name, which means Master Riverside. His commentary emphasizes Taoist yoga and was reportedly composed at the request of Emperor Wen. It ranks next to Wang Bi's in popularity.”

Red Pine 1943 CE –
( Bill Porter)
Exceptional translator, cultural diplomat
from Lao-Tzu's Taoteching

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