Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Li Bai 李白

(Li Bo)

701 – 762 CE

The greatest Chinese poet so widely respected that a crater on the planet Mercury was named after him, that he would appear as a character in books written by Hermann Hesse, John Steinbeck, Guy Gabriel Kay, Simon Elegant, Ursula Le Guin, and Philip K. Dick.. Immensely influential during his own time as well as subsequent generations in China, his influence extends to American Imagist and Modernist poetry through poets like Ezra Pound, Charles Bukowski, and Derek Walcott. Mastering Confucius at 10, he began writing poetry still famous today. At 12 he went to live in the mountains studying and writing, returned and wandered, married but but didn't make enough money so his wife left with their children. He became a favorite of the emperor, was rejected, wandered again, was imprisoned, sentenced to death, released to wander again, and legended to drunkenly die in a river while trying to embrace the moon's reflection.


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Quotes by Li Bai (12 quotes)

“The birds have vanished into the sky and now the last cloud drains away. We sit together the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains.”

Chapters: 13. Honor and Disgrace

Themes: Egolessness

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“He who neglects to drink of the spring of experience is likely to die of thirst in the desert of ignorance.”

Chapters: 45. Complete Perfection

Themes: Ignorance

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“Isn't it clear that weapons are the tools of misery? The great sages never waited until the need for such things arose.”

Chapters: 31. Victory Funeral

Themes: War

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“The moon shines on my bed brightly,
So bright like frost upon the loam.
Looking up and gazing at the mountain moon,
My head sinks back down with thoughts of home.

Chapters: 56. One with the Dust

Themes: Moon

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“My fair girl will be drunken soon with her blushed cheeks… it cheats us and steals away. Rise and dance! The sun is fading!”

Chapters: 12. This Over That

Themes: Sex

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“There’s another world beyond the world of man.”

Chapters: 14. Finding and Following the Formless Form

Themes: Shambhala

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“This floating life is like a dream and time itself a traveling guest of the centuries.”

Themes: Dream

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“Why do I live among the green mountains?
I laugh and answer not, my soul is serene;
It dwells in another heaven and earth belonging to no man.
The peach trees are in flower and the water flow on.”

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“What a pleasure it is, with a cask of sweet wine and singing girls beside me,
I am happier than the fairy of the air, who rides on his yellow crane,
And free as the merman who followed the sea-gulls aimlessly.”

Themes: Wu Wei

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“My poem is done, I laugh and my delight is vaster than the sea.
Oh deathless poetry! The songs of Chu-ping are ever glorious as the sun and moon.
While the palaces and towers of the Chu kings have vanished from the hills.”

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“I smile, and am silent, and even my soul remains quiet: it lives in the other world which no one owns.
The peach trees blossom, the water flows.

Themes: Water Non-Thought

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“The birds have vanished into the sky, and now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains.”

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Quotes about Li Bai (3 quotes)

“Everyone loved Li Tai-po—the Keats of China—for he spoke with the same pride and friendliness to both paupers and kings. However, starvation is the natural reward of poetry and his last years were bitter because he never stopped to make money. His old age was filled with imprisonment, condemnation to death, pardon, and every experiment in suffering.”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE via John Little, Shan Dao
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“As for Li-po, give him a jugful,
He will write one hundred poems.
He dozes in a wine-shop
On a city street of Chang-an;
And though his Sovereign calls,
He will not board the Imperial barge.”

Du Fu 杜甫 杜甫 712 – 770 CE

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“He is the lofty peak of Tai towering above the thousand mountains and hills; he is the sun in whose presence a million stars of heaven lose their scintillating brilliance.”

Anonymous -800 to present
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history
from Chinese critic

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