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 c. 1100 BCE via Homer
(Ulysses)
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.”

Buddha गौतम बुद्ध 563 – 483 BCE
(Siddhartha Shakyamuni Gautama)
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 412 – 323 BCE via Will Durant
(of Sinope)
from Life of Greece

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

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE
(Zhuangzi)

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

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

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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།།། 685 – 763 CE
(Bhusuku, Śāntideva)
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 701 – 762 CE
(Li Bo)

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 809 – 859 CE via Ralph D. Sawyer
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། 9th century CE via Keith Dowman
(“Dakini Master”)
Mahasiddha #3
from Masters of Enchantment

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

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

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

Rumi مولانا جلال‌الدین محمد بلخی 1207 – 1283 CE
(Rumi Mawlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī)
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?”

René Descartes 1596 – 1650 CE

Themes: Dream

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

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 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 1835 – 1910 CE
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)

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 1881 – 1968 CE via Shan Dao
(Emanuel Morgan)

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

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

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi 1904 – 1971 CE

Themes: Dream

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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། 1924 – 1981 CE
(Rangjung Rigpe Dorje)
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 Control

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

Toni Packer 1927 – 2013 CE
A Zen teacher minus the 'Zen' and minus the 'teacher.’

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 1948 CE –
(Steven Demetre Georgiou, Yusuf Islam)

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། 1961 CE –
(Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche)
"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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