Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Chapter 10
The Power of Goodness

In being who and what you are,
Can you live with panoramic awareness?
Riding your energy like a new-born child,
Seeing with mirror-like, clear vision;
Can you journey without goal,
Serve without seeking reward,
Govern without gaining ideas,
Teach the wisdom beyond words?
Can you give birth and develop –
Create without attachment,
Nurture without domineering?
This is the Power of Goodness.

Commentary

“We behold what we are, and we are what we behold.”

Vyasa व्यास
c. 3000 BCE
Hindu immortals, Vishnu avatar, 5th incarnation of Brahma
from Mahābhārata महाभारतम्

Themes: Oneness

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“If you can stay in the lead of men without their knowing, you are at the core of life.”

Lao Tzu 老子 via Witter Bynner
(Lǎozǐ)
604 BCE -
from Way of Life According to Lao Tzu

Themes: Inscrutable

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“You only lose what you cling to.”

The Buddha गौतम बुद्ध
(Siddhartha Shakyamuni Gautama)
563 – 483 BCE
Awakened Truth

Themes: Letting Go

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“We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.”

Confucius 孔丘
(Kongzi, Kǒng Zǐ)
551 – 479 BCE
History's most influential "failure"

Themes: Appreciation

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“The sage’s mind is so still, it can mirror Heaven and Earth and reflect the 10,000 things.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周
(Zhuangzi)
369 – 286 BCE

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“If we don’t obstruct their source, things come into existence on their own.”

Wang Bi 王弼
226 – 534 CE

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“Going from one to two is the origin of all delusion.”

Su Che 呂洞 via Red Pine
1039 – 1112 CE
from Tao-te-chen-ching-chu

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“If you start seeking, you are unable to see… As soon as you seek, it is like grasping at shadows.”

Yuanwu Keqin 圜悟克勤 via Thomas Cleary
(Yuánwù Kèqín)
1063 – 1135 CE
from Zen Letters

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“Learned we may be with another man's learning: we can only be wise with wisdom of our own.”

Montaigne
1533 – 1592 CE

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“Rather than trying to become a buddha, nothing could be simpler than taking the shortcut of remaining a buddha!”

Bankei 盤珪永琢
(Bankei Yōtaku)
1622 – 1693 CE

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“A man can do what he wants, but not want what he wants.”

Arthur Schopenhauer
1788 – 1860 CE

Themes: Freedom Desire

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“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Teilhard de Chardin via Bernard Wall
1881 – 1955 CE
from Divine Milieu

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“And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

T.S. Eliot
1888 – 1965 CE

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“Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.”

Aldous Huxley
1894 – 1963 CE

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“the false serpent persuaded Adam that he must still do something to become like God… to make himself what God had already made him. That was the Fall of man.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
1906 – 1945 CE

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“If you have no personal history, no explanations are needed; nobody is angry or disillusioned with your acts. And above all no one pins you down with their thoughts.”

Carlos Castaneda
1925 – 1998 CE
from Journey to Ixtlan

Themes: Creativity

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“I consistently render the character te as ‘power.’ ‘Virtue’ (virtus, vertu) in its old sense of the inherent quality and strength of a thing or person is far closer to the mark, but that sense is pretty well lost. Applied obsessively to the virginity or monogamy of women, the word lost its own virtue.”

Ursula Le Guin
1929 – 2018 CE

Themes: Virtue

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“when we say that human beings are basically good, we mean that they have every faculty they need, so that they don’t have to fight with their world.”

Chögyam Trungpa
1939 – 1987 CE
from Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior

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Comments (2)

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  1. Shan Dao
    Thanks to Chögyam Trungpa for the terms, “panoramic awareness” and “journey without goal.” Instead of our translation, “The Power of Goodness,” Red Pine uses “Dark Virtue,” Le Guin and Cleary “Mysterious Power,” Muller “Mysterious Virtue,” Carus “Profound,” Wu “Hidden,” Feng “Primal,” and Bynner “the core of life.”
  2. Shan Dao
    Le Guin says that most scholars believe this chapter is about meditation and meditation techniques, Waley about Taoist sexual and breath yoga, but Wing-Tsit Chan writes that this kind of interpretation came much later and confuses Taoist philosophy with Taoist religion.