Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Su Shi 苏轼

(Dongpo, Su Tungpo)

1037 – 1101 CE

"pre-eminent personality of 11th century China"

Writer, statesman, poet, painter, calligrapher, pharmacologist, and important political figure; Su Shi wrote some of his time's most well-known poems and prose as well as essays on topics from travel to the iron industry. An exceptional and highly honored scholar, while serving in the Hangzhou government, he constructed the famous pedestrian causeway across West Lake. His poems got him into political trouble leading to two long exiles and imprisonment; but also, they brought him a fame that spread to many other countries and continues today. His poems on Buddhist topics became an important influence on Dōgen, founder of the Zen Sōtō school.

Taoist Zen


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Quotes by Su Shi (12 quotes)

“Life is like a spring dream which vanishes without a trace.”

Themes: Dream No Trace

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“No one who does good work will ever come to a bad end, either here or in the world to come”

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“I lean over the fishing rock, dip the deep clear river current;
Store the reflection of the large Spring moon, return it to the jar”

Themes: Moon

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“In the deep night, with the wind still, the sea calm;
I'll find a boat and drift away,
to spend my final years afloat,
trusting to the river and the sea.”

Themes: Old Age Wu Wei

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“What sort of man at such a time would come to visit the teacher?
As this is not a time for flowers, I find I've come alone.”

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“In my cottage in the wood, I read my books, dream and think.
Love o'er all the past I brood and the present with it link.”

Themes: Memory

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“Thickly o'er the jasper terrace flower shadows play;
In vain I call my garden boy to sweep them all away.
They vanish when the sun sets in the west, but very soon
They spring to giddy life again beneath the rising moon.”

Themes: Illusion

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“When a child is born, families want it to be intelligent. But through intelligence, I have only wrecked my whole life. So I can only hope the baby will prove ignorant and stupid; crown a tranquil life by becoming a Cabinet Minister.”
Themes: Family Government

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“A spring evening—one priceless moment.
The smell of fresh flowers and the glow of the moon.
Sweet song drifts down from the balcony—beautiful.
The garden swing hangs motionless as evening drips away.”

Themes: Appreciation

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“In times of old, a warrior bold mounts his steed and takes the lead with lance so long in arms so strong. From Western lands our beaten bands return. But he now takes the toll; this noble soul must wear his wasted life away”

Themes: Leadership

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“Should Heaven rain pearls, the cold cannot wear them as clothes;
Should Heaven rain jade, the hungry cannot use it as food.”

Themes: Materialism Money

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“As the master touched his lute so lovingly and slow—when the sound of music broke the stillness of the night—a rapture swayed me without bounds as I listened to the sounds.”

Themes: Music

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Quotes about Su Shi (1 quotes)

“There had to be one Su Tungpo (Su Shi), but there could not be two... The mention of Su Tungpo always elicits an affectionate and warm admiring smile in China.”

Lín Yǔtáng 林語堂 1895 – 1976 CE
from The Gay Genius (1947)

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