Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Huston Smith

1919 – 2016 CE

Born in Suzhou, Huston Smith lived there with his Christian missionary parents until 17 when he moved to the USA where he became not only a religious scholar but a practitioner of his Christian tradition as well as Vedanta, Sufism, and Zen Buddhism for more than 10 years each. A close student of Aldous Huxley, he became an integral part of the Harvard Project and the Center for Personality Research working with Timothy Leary and Ram Das. When the Supreme Court ruled against Native Americans using peyote as a religious sacrament, he took up the cause and helped pass the American Indian Religious Freedom Act amendment. In the 1950s, he helped Martin Luther King break the color barrier at a segregated University and later helped the Dalai Lama come to the USA for the first time. Lifelong advocate of religious synergy, social justice and peace; his work blended theology, mythology, and science.

Eras

Sources

Beyond the Postmodern Mind

World's Religions

Unlisted Sources

Quotes by Huston Smith (55 quotes)

“If we take the world's enduring religions at their best, we discover the distilled wisdom of the human race.”

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“Institutions are not pretty. Show me a pretty government. Healing is wonderful, but the American Medical Association? Learning is wonderful, but universities? The same is true for religion... religion is institutionalized spirituality.”

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“The goal of spiritual life is not altered states, but altered traits.”

Themes: Integrity

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“Submission (in Arabic, Islam) was the very name of the religion that surfaced through the Qur’an… the possibility of there being something that, better than we are in every respect, could infuse us with goodness as well as power, were we open to the transfusion.”

from Beyond the Postmodern Mind

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“Without love, we are self-centered, but love enables us to move the center of our lives outside our ego… it expands our lives”

Themes: Love

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“The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.”

from Beyond the Postmodern Mind

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“We are born in mystery, we live in mystery, and we die in mystery.”

Themes: Sacred World

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“You can never get enough of what you don't really want.”

Themes: Desire Greed

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“All -isms end up in schisms.”

Themes: Pluralism Opinion

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“Among the languages of American Indians there is no word for ‘art,’ because for Indians everything is art.”

from World's Religions

Themes: Art

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“Without attention, the human sense of wonder and the holy will stir occasionally, but to become a steady flame it must be tended”

from World's Religions

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“Jesus… invited people to see differently instead of telling them what to do or believe… he located the authority of his teaching in his hearer’s hearts, not in himself or God-as-removed.”

from World's Religions

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“To try to extinguish the drive for riches with money is like trying to quench a fire by pouring butter over it.”

from World's Religions

Themes: Money Greed

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“Buddhism begins with a man who shook off the daze, the doze, the dream-like vagaries of ordinary awareness. It begins with a man who woke up.”

from World's Religions

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“Hinduism advises people to think of God as the archetype of the noblest reality they encounter in the natural world.”

from World's Religions

Themes: God Hinduism

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“The only unqualifiedly good is extended vision, the enlargement of one’s understanding of the ultimate nature of things.”

from World's Religions

Themes: Virtue Wisdom

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“God has to speak to each person in their own language, in their own idioms. Take Spanish, Chinese. You can express the same thought, but to different people you have to use a different language. Its the same in religion.”

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“Hinduism encourages people to test all four [being reflective, emotional, active, or experimental] and combine them as best suits their needs.”

from World's Religions

Themes: Hinduism

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“Walnuts have a shell, and they have a kernel. Religions are the same. They have an essence, but then they have a protective coating. So the kernels are the same. However, the shells are different”

from World's Religions

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“Poetry is a special use of language that opens onto the real. The business of the poet is truth telling, which is why in the Celtic tradition no one could be a teacher unless he or she was a poet.”

from World's Religions

Themes: Poetry Truth

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“I think that God imploded, like a spiritual big bang, to launch the eight civilizations that make up recorded history and the religions in those civilizations.”

from World's Religions

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“I'm not a chauvinist. I'm a universalist.”

from World's Religions

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“Sex is the divine in its most available epiphany.”

from World's Religions

Themes: Sex

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Plato described ordinary life as unthinking, lived in a dim cave of shadowy reflections, but said that it is possible to leave the cave and see things in sunlit clarity as they actually are.”

from World's Religions

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“The essence of morality consists, as in art, of drawing the line somewhere.”

from World's Religions

Themes: Virtue Integrity

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“When I read the Upanishads, which are part of Vedanta, I found a profundity of worldview that made my Christianity seem like third grade.”

from World's Religions

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“Having been created in the image God, all human beings have a God-shaped vacuum built into their hearts. Since nature abhors a vacuum, people keep trying to fill the one inside them.”

from World's Religions

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“I think it matters almost infinitely that we practice one of the authentic religions. But if you mean does it make any difference which, the answer is no.”

from World's Religions

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“We are free when we are not the slave of our impulses, but rather their master [when] we become the authors of our own dramas rather than characters in them.”

from World's Religions

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“What is Zen? Simple, simple, so simple. Infinite gratitude toward all things past; infinite service to all things present; infinite responsibility to all things future.”

from World's Religions

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“What is sickness? What is health? Both are distractions. Put them both aside and go forward.”

Themes: Health Medicine

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“Daily the world grows smaller, leaving [wisdom] the only place where peace can find a home.”

Themes: Peace Wisdom

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“It has been estimated that one third of our Western civilization bears the mark of its Jewish ancestry.”

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“Science and spirituality will become allies, and human beings will realize a vast potentiality now only dimly felt.”

Themes: Science

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“...the only thing that continues is the consequences of our action.”

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“One reason education undoes belief is its teaching of evolution… more loss of religious faith can be traced to the theory of evolution than to anything else.”

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“If you are drilling for water, it's better to drill one 60-foot well than ten 6-foot wells.”

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“After his great awakening, the Buddha continued to meditate and to devote himself to others; otherwise his vision would have receded into a pleasant memory.”

Themes: Buddhism Memory

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“A postcard of a beautiful lake is not a beautiful lake, and Sufis may be defined as those who dance in the lake.”

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“Reserved as he [Confucius] was about the supernatural, he was not without it; somewhere in the universe there was a power that was on the side of right.”

Themes: Confucianism

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“We become compassionate not from altruism which denies the self for the sake of the other, but from the insight that sees and feels one is the other.”

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“Psychoactive drugs may produce religious experiences. ...it is far less clear that they can produce religious lives.”

Themes: Illusion Medicine

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“In nature, the emphasis is in what is rather than what ought to be.”

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“In nature, the emphasis is in what is rather than what ought to be.”

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“It is commonly said and known that each civilization has its own religion. Now my claim is that if we look deeper, the different civilizations were brought into being by the different revelations.”

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“The larger the island of wisdom, the longer the shoreline of wonder.”

from World's Religions

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“In accounting terms, we can say that if Philosophical Taoists work at increasing net profits by cutting costs, Religious Taoists try it by increasing gross income.”

from World's Religions

Themes: Taoism

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“That in China the scholar ranked at the top of the social scale may have been Confucius’ doing, but Taoism is fully as responsible for placing the soldier at that bottom.”

from World's Religions

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“Confucius stresses social responsibility, Lao Tzu praises spontaneity and naturalness… Confucius roams within society, Lao Tzu wanders beyond.”

from World's Religions

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“'Civilization' is seductive where not imperious”

from World's Religions

Themes: Civilization

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“Of all the non-Western religions, Islam stands closest to the west—closest geographically, and also closest ideologically; for religiously it stands in the Abrahamic family of religions while philosophically it builds on the Greeks. Yet Islam is the most difficult religion for the West to understand... Common borders have given rise to border disputes... for a good part of the last 1400 years, Islam and Europe have been at war, and people seldom have a fair picture of their enemies.”

from World's Religions

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“Bertrand Russell, a scientific humanist, found it difficult to see why people should take unhappily to news that the universe is running down, inasmuch as 'I do not see how an unpleasant process can be made less so by being indefinitely repeated.'”

from World's Religions

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“Stunningly original, Peter Kingsley’s work is momentous in its implications.”

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“It was under the rubric of magic that the Taoist church—dividing the territory with freelance wizards, exorcists, and shamans—divided ways to harness higher powers for humane ends.”

from World's Religions

Themes: Magic

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“There are books whose first reading casts a spell that is never quite undone, the reason being that they speak to the deepest 'me' in the reader... the Tao Te Ching is such a book.”

from World's Religions

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