Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Chapter 20
Unconventional Mind

Stop always cramming more and more information into your head
And realization may dawn dissolving all difficulties.
Yes and no,
Agreement and rejection,
Beautiful and ugly,
Good and bad…
Won’t seem so different and far apart.
How foolish to fear something just because others do.

When people get what they want,
They are wreathed in smiles, joyous and beaming,
Drowning in what they love.
The wise stay unmoved
Knowing that nothing is ever lost or gained.
Alone, aimlessly wandering like a child,
Like a baby too young to smile,
Not belonging, not fitting it,
They remain with nowhere to turn, no one to turn to.

Fools accumulate more and more but never have enough.
The wise with nothing remain completely content.
Fools thinking they know become more and more convinced
While falling further and further from truth.
The wise remain uncertain, unconvinced, open without answers,
Drifting without anchor like waves on the sea;
Without direction like the restless wind.

The foolish stay busy, settle into habits and endlessly chase goals.
The wise are not seduced, don’t interfere, and remain content with what is.

Commentary

“Heaven has appointed us dwellers on earth a time for all things.”

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

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“I—pig-headed, awkward, different from the rest—am only a glorious infant nursing at the breast.”

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

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“I look upon all sentient beings as my children.”

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

Themes: Education

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“It is the privilege of the gods to want nothing, and of godlike men to want little.”

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

Themes: Desire

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“The way of learning is none other than finding the lost mind.”

Mencius 孟子
(Mengzi)
372 – 289 BCE
from Book of Mencius 孟子

Themes: Education

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“Don’t chase after people’s approval. Don’t depend on your plans. Don’t make decisions; let decisions make themselves.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周
(Zhuangzi)
369 – 286 BCE

Themes: Conformity

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“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”

Koheleth
c. 330–180 BCE
from Ecclesiastes קֹהֶלֶת‎

Themes: Time

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“When the approval and disapproval of others become important, the honest and sincere expression of thoughts and feelings is lost.”

Lie Yukou 列圄寇/列禦寇/列子 via Eva Wong, Shan Dao
(Liè Yǔkòu, Liezi)
4th C. BCE
from Liezi "True Classic of Simplicity and Perfect Emptiness”

Themes: Integrity

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“Whoever observes complicated rules of propriety is rotten in his innermost heart.”

Hán Fēi 韓非
280 – 233 BCE

Themes: Conformity

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“The Way is not something which can be studied. Study leads to retention of concepts and so the Way is entirely misunderstood… The first step is to refrain from knowledge-based concepts.”

Huangbo Xiyun 黄檗希运
(Huangbo Xiyun, Huángbò Xīyùn, Obaku)
? - 850 CE

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“The Ultimate in which all become the same is free of habit-forming thought and limitations.”

Tilopa
988 – 1069 CE

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“People all drown in what they love… People chase things and forget about the Tao, while the sage clings to the Tao and ignores everything else.”

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

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“A person of the Way fundamentally does not dwell anywhere... The moon sets and the water is cool. Each bit of autumn contains vast interpenetration without bounds.”

Hóngzhì Zhēngjué 宏智正覺 via Dan Leighton
(Shōgaku)
1091 – 1157 CE
from Cultivating the Emplty Field

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“What passes for learning in the world never ends. For every truth found, two are lost.”

Li Xizhai via Red Pine
(Li Hsi-Chai)
12th century CE
from Tao-te-chen-ching yi-chieh

Themes: Progress

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“Thinking good and bad is hell and heaven.

Mumon Ekai 無門慧開
(Wumen Huikai)
1183 – 1260 CE
from The Gateless Gate, 無門関, 無門關

Themes: Non-Thought

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“Do not be the slave of first impressions… Wait for the second or even the third edition of the news.”

Balthasar Gracian
1601 – 1658 CE

Themes: Slavery

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“There are two things children should get from their parents: roots and wings.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
1749 – 1832 CE

Themes: Education

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“A robin redbreast in a cage puts all Heaven in a rage.”

William Blake
1757 – 1827 CE

Themes: Control

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“Habit rules the unreflecting herd.”

William Wordsworth
1770 – 1850 CE

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“It is remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into a particular route, and make a beaten track for ourselves… how worn and dusty, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity!”

Henry David Thoreau
1817 – 1862 CE
Father of environmentalism and America's first yogi
from Walden or Life in the Woods

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“It is easer to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

Frederick Douglass
1818 – 1895 CE
International symbol of social justice

Themes: Education

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“Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it.”

Mark Twain
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
1835 – 1910 CE

Themes: Truth

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“It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

Mark Twain
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
1835 – 1910 CE

Themes: Lies

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“We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first.
There are a terrible lot of lies going around the world, and the worst of it is half of them are true.”

Winston Churchill
1874 – 1965 CE

Themes: Deception

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“centralization – the elimination of independent groups – leads to one-sidedness, barrenness… because such centralization suppresses rivalry of opinions.”

Albert Einstein
1879 – 1955 CE

Themes: Opinion

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“This is true happiness: to have no ambition and to work like a horse as if you had every ambition.”

Nikos Kazantzakis
1883 – 1957 CE
from Zorba the Greek

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“It takes a minute to have a crush on someone, an hour to like someone, and a day to love someone... but it takes a lifetime to forget someone.”

Kahlil Gibran
1883 – 1931 CE

Themes: Forget

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“How can man progress if he is forbidden to question tradition?”

Will (and Ariel) Durant
1885 – 1981 CE

Themes: Progress Doubt

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“life is short and information endless: nobody has time for everything.”

Aldous Huxley
1894 – 1963 CE

Themes: Time

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“Heaven in our author’s thought is synonymous with Tao. Tao is the absolute, the enduring, the ever-so.”

Arthur Waley
1899 – 1969 CE
from The Way and its Power

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“"I tell so many lies I have to write them down and keep them in the lie box so I can keep them straight."”

Anais Nin
1903 – 1977 CE

Themes: Deception Lies

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“his parents kept him out of school… Going to a white school and walking a medicine man’s road, you can’t do both.”

John Fire Lame Deer via Richard Erdoes
1903 – 1976 CE
from Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions

Themes: Education

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“Buddha is always helping you. But usually we refuse Buddha’s offer. For instance,sometimes you ask for something special. This means that you are refusing to accept the treasures you already have.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
1904 – 1971 CE

Themes: Mistakes

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“We shouldn’t see some as sharp and others as dull. By treating all children without discrimination, we enable them to see all beings as equal.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
1904 – 1971 CE

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“Be like a child who draws things whether they are good or bad.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi via David Chadwick
1904 – 1971 CE
from Crooked Cucumber: the Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki

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“My opinion is that you never find happiness until you stop looking for it. My greatest happiness consists precisely in doing nothing whatever that is calculated to obtain happiness”

Thomas Merton
1915 – 1968 CE

Themes: Happiness

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“Many a time we ease ourselves into convenient clichés and… once more we are trapped by habits that are the dunghills upon which the creeds feed.”

Reb Zalman
1924 – 2014 CE
from Paradigm Shift

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“I don'think there is any truth. There are only points of view.”

Allen Ginsberg
1926 – 1997 CE

Themes: Truth

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“the mind wanders without certainties, desolate, silent, awkward. But in that milky, dim strangeness lies the way… the way embodies the eternal beginning, the ever-springing source.”

Ursula Le Guin
1929 – 2018 CE

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“First impressions - almost always based on the new person’s acting skills, are almost always far from truth.”

Shan Dao 山道
1933 CE –

Themes: Deception

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“Our ego-mind and emotions are a dramatic illusion… we create elaborate scenarios and then react to them but there is nothing really happening outside our mind.”

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

Themes: Mind Illusion

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“Nothing is intrinsically or ultimately bad. Any situation that arises is only relatively good or bad based on many factors, including—most significantly—how you perceive the situation and how you respond to it.”

Karmapa XVII ཨོ་རྒྱན་འཕྲིན་ལས་རྡོ་རྗ
(Orgyen Thrinlay Dorje)
1985 CE –

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