Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Chapter 13
Honor and Disgrace

Honor and disgrace only trap and confuse us.
Painful because we hope to gain, fear to lose;
Misfortune and high status hurt like our bodies do.
Because favor turns into disfavor, misfortune into fortune;
Welcome them both.

Believing in a separate self
Creates great suffering.
Without a self,
How can there be suffering?
Only those who realize egolessness
Can safely be entrusted with political positions.
Only those not seduced and controlled by something external
Will remain unmanipulated by crises
And not become corrupted by power.

Commentary

“Think this way about our fleeting world: a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream; a flash of lightening in a summer cloud; a flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.”

Themes: Dream

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“My name is Nobody.”

Odysseus Ὀδυσσεύς via Homer
(Ulysses)
c. 1100 BCE
Trickster lineage hero and symbol
from Odyssey, Ὀδύσσεια

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“He who experiences the unity of life sees his own Self in all beings, and all beings in his own Self, and looks on everything with an impartial eye.”

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

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“Alexander the Great found the philosopher looking attentively at a pile of human bones. Diogenes explained, ‘I am searching for the bones of your father but cannot distinguish them from those of a slave.’”

Diogenes via Will Durant
(of Sinope)
412 – 323 BCE
from Life of Greece

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“No self is true self and the greatest man is nobody.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周
(Zhuangzi)
369 – 286 BCE

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“A Buddha is someone who finds freedom in good fortune and bad.”

Bodhidharma 菩提達磨
(Daruma)
5th-6th C. CE

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“All form, therefore, is like a dream… The body, in this way, has no existence; What, therefore, is male and what is female?”

Shantideva ཞི་བ་ལྷ།།།
(Bhusuku, Śāntideva)
685 – 763 CE
from Bodhisattva Way of Life, Bodhicaryavatara

Themes: Dream

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“One’s own true nature cannot be explained by another.”

Saraha
8th century CE

Themes: Know Yourself

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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.”

Li Bai 李白
(Li Bo)
701 – 762 CE

Themes: Egolessness

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“People who are favored are honored. And because they are honored, they act proud. And because they act proud, they are hated… Hence sages consider success as well as failure to be a warning.”

Wang Zhen via Ralph D. Sawyer
809 – 859 CE
from Daodejing Lunbing Yaoyishu, The Tao of War

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“Without self, not thinking, not achieving… I live in consummate pure delight and perfect awareness.”

Virupa བི་རཱུ་པ། via Keith Dowman
(“Dakini Master”)
9th century CE
Mahasiddha #3
from Masters of Enchantment

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“The malaise of belief in ‘I’ and ‘mine’ is instantly cured…”

Shantipa ཤཱནྟི་པ། via Keith Dowman
("The Academic")
late 10th to mid-11th century
Mahasiddha #12
from Masters of Mahamudra

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“Become nothing, And He'll turn you into everything.”

Rumi مولانا جلال‌الدین محمد بلخی
(Rumi Mawlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī)
1207 – 12783 CE
from Masnavi مثنوي معنوي‎‎) "Rhyming Couplets of Profound Spiritual Meaning”

Themes: Emptiness

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“Worthy people are neither elated by prosperity or grieved by decline.”

Nichiren Daishonin
1222 – 1282 CE

Themes: Success

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“When affection for the I-creature and what it owns is dead, then the work of the Teacher is over.”

Kabīr कबीर
1399 – 1448 CE

Themes: Egolessness

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“We are entirely made up of bits and pieces, woven together so diversely and so shapelessly that each one of them pulls its own way at every moment.”

Montaigne
1533 – 1592 CE

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“I find not a single property which with certainty separates the waking state from the dream. How can you be certain that your whole life is not a dream?”

Descartes René Descartes
1596 – 1650 CE

Themes: Dream

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“Every creature is only a tone, a modification in a mighty harmony.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
1749 – 1832 CE

Themes: Music

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“And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils.”

William Wordsworth
1770 – 1850 CE

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“Our own heart, and not other men's opinions, forms our true honor.”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
1772 – 1834 CE

Themes: Integrity

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“Hope is the confusion of the desire for a thing with its probability.”

Arthur Schopenhauer
1788 – 1860 CE

Themes: Confusion Hope

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“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”

Edgar Allan Poe Edgar Allen Poe
1809 – 1849 CE

Themes: Dream Illusion

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“It is true, that which I have revealed to you; there is no God, no universe, no human race, no earthly life, no heaven, no hell. It is all a dream--a grotesque and foolish dream. Nothing exists but you. And you are but a thought--a vagrant thought, a useless thought, a homeless thought, wandering forlorn among the empty eternities!”

Mark Twain
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
1835 – 1910 CE

Themes: Dream

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“All things hang like a drop of dew upon a blade of grass.”

W.B. (William Butler) Yeats
1865 – 1939 CE

Themes: Impermanence

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“Man has no individual 'i'. But there are, instead, hundreds and thousands of separate small 'i's, very often entirely unknown to one another, never coming into contact, or, on the contrary, hostile to each other, mutually exclusive and incompatible. Each minute, each moment, man is saying or thinking, 'i'. And each time his 'i' is different. Just now it was a thought, now it is a desire, now a sensation, now another thought, and so on, endlessly. Man is a plurality. Man's name is legion.”

G. I. Gurdjieff
1866 – 1949 CE

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“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Winston Churchill
1874 – 1965 CE

Themes: Success Failure

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“The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained liberation from the self.”

Albert Einstein
1879 – 1955 CE

Themes: Meaningfulness

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“When a person no longer confuses a personal body with self and recognizes all people as members of their own body, neither failure or success can bother them and they become safe to guide and guard others.”

Witter Bynner via Shan Dao
(Emanuel Morgan)
1881 – 1968 CE

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“When shall I at last retire into solitude alone, without companions, without joy and without sorrow, with only the sacred certainty that all is a dream?”

Nikos Kazantzakis
1883 – 1957 CE
from Zorba the Greek

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“Forget mistakes. Forget failure. Forget everything except what you're going to do now and do it.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant
1885 – 1981 CE

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“"Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary."”

Reinhold Niebuhr
1892 – 1971 CE

Themes: Democracy Justice

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“This Power Elite directly employs several millions of the country´s working force in its factories, offices and stores, controls many millions more by lending them the money to buy its products, and, through its ownership of the media of mass communication, influences the thoughts, the feelings and the actions of virtually everybody. To parody the words of W. Churchill, never have so many been manipulated so much by few.”

Aldous Huxley
1894 – 1963 CE

Themes: Wealth Greed

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“I am not a category. I am not a thing — a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process – an integral function of the universe.”

Buckminster Fuller
1895 – 1983 CE

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“Freedom is pure observation without direction, without fear of punishment and reward.”

Krishnamurti
(Jiddu Krishnamurti)
1895 – 1986 CE
from Core of the Teaching

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“Dreamer! Dreamer! What are you dreaming about?”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
1904 – 1971 CE

Themes: Dream

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“Life is like stepping onto a boat that is about to sail out to sea and sink.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
1904 – 1971 CE

Themes: Death and Dying

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“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

Albert Camus
1913 – 1960 CE

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“When you do things, then obstacles will come and you can go through them. Obstacles are a sign of success.”

Karmapa XVI ཀརྨ་བཀའ་བརྒྱུད།
(Rangjung Rigpe Dorje)
1924 – 1981 CE
from Rangjung Rigpe Dorje

Themes: Success Obstacles

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“Whoever controls the media, the images, controls the culture.”

Allen Ginsberg
1926 – 1997 CE

Themes: Culture

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“There is beauty where there is no ‘me’”

Toni Packer
1927 – 2013 CE

Themes: Emptiness Beauty

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“Lao Tzu sees rightful power as earned and wrongful power as usurped. He does not see power as virtue, but as the result of virtue. The democracies are founded on that view.”

Ursula Le Guin
1929 – 2018 CE

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“The great enemy of freedom is the alignment of political power with wealth. This alignment destroys the commonwealth - and so destroys democracy.”

Wendell Berry
1934 CE –

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“the basic requirement for treading the spiritual path is hopelessness… the only and best remedy is hopelessness”

Chögyam Trungpa
1939 – 1987 CE
from Illusion's Game

Themes: Hope

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“What makes me me, what makes you you? It’s just a different point of view, a state of mind I’m going through…”

Cat Stevens
(Steven Demetre Georgiou, Yusuf Islam)
1948 CE –

Themes: Egolessness

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“From time immemorial we have been addicted to the self that loathes suffering and loves the causes of suffering.”

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche རྫོང་གསར་ འཇམ་དབྱངས་ མཁྱེན་བརྩེ་ རིན་པོ་ཆེ།
(Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche)
1961 CE –
"Activity" incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
from What Makes You Not a Buddhist

Themes: Suffering

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“Melting our attachment to self is the most powerful medication.”

Dzigar Kongtrül Rinpoche ཛི་གར་ཀོང་སྤྲུལ།
1964 CE –

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“The soul is a verb, not a noun.”

David Mitchell
1969 CE –
from Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Themes: Creativity

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