Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Chapter 22
Heaven's Door

Break to become whole,
Twist to become straight,
Empty to become full,
Wear out to become new,
Have little to gain much,
With much, you gain only confusion.
The wise therefore embrace non-duality
And use that to shepherd the world.

Not showing off, they shine brightly.
Not justifying themselves, they gain respect.
Not defining themselves, they become new.
Not bragging and parading themselves, they lead.
Not flattering themselves, their success endures.

Not competing,
In all the world they have no competition.
As the old masters taught,
Surrender to overcome.
By returning, you become whole.

Commentary

“As want can reward you, wealth can bewilder.”

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

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“Without taking credit, a wise man is accredited; laying no claim, he is acclaimed.”

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

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“The all-victorious sage commander doesn’t attain victory by bringing the enemy over to his side. Instead he creates a larger view that includes both sides.”

Sun Tzu 孙武
(Sun Zi)
544 – 496 BCE
HIstory's supreme strategist

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“All things travel in opposite directions!”

Parmenides via John Burnett
540 – 450 BCE
Grandfather of Western philosophy
from On Nature

Themes: Paradox

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“People have lost sight of the truth by coming to believe in two forms: one with the fire of heaven and light, one the opposite as a dark, heavy night. But in truth, everything at the same time is full of both light and dark, both equal.”

Parmenides via Shan Dao
540 – 450 BCE
Grandfather of Western philosophy
from On Nature

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“Judgments of right and wrong are what I am calling feelings. What I call having no feelings is when people do not harm themselves inwardly by likes and dislikes but always go by what is natural and not try to add to life.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周
(Zhuangzi)
369 – 286 BCE

Themes: Appreciation

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“Lao-tzu said everyone else seeks happiness. He alone saw that to be incomplete was to become whole.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周
(Zhuangzi)
369 – 286 BCE

Themes: Happiness Paradox

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“Those who are able to practice being incomplete… suffer no harm.”

Heshang Gong 河上公
(Ho-shang Kung or "Riverside Sage”)
202 – 157 BCE

Themes: Less is More

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“As with a tree, the more of it there is, the farther it is from its roots. The less of it there is, the closer it is to its roots. ‘More’ means more distanat from what is real. ‘Less’ means closer.”

Wang Bi 王弼
226 – 534 CE

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“Buddha-nature is nonduality.”

Huineng 惠能
(Huìnéng, Enō)
638 – 713 CE
The Sutra of Hui Neng

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“Innocence is the way to realize non-duality.”

Catrapa ཙ་ཏྲ་པ། via Keith Dowman
("The Lucky Beggar")
750 – 850 CE
Mahasiddha #23
from Masters of Mahamudra

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“mind itself is like a blazing jewel”

Kaṅkaṇa ཀངྐ་ཎ་པ། via Keith Dowman
(“The Siddha-King”)
11th century CE
Mahasiddha #29
from Masters of Mahamudra

Themes: Mind

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“When you meet someone who understands the Tao, don't talk but don't keep silent!”

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

Themes: Paradox

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“The most certain sign of wisdom is cheerfulness.”

Montaigne
1533 – 1592 CE

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“Those who cultivate this within themselves become sages, while those who practice this in the world become rulers.”

Deqing
(Te-Ch’ing)
1546 – 1623 CE

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“Do not show your wounded finger, for everything will knock up against it… The wise never confess to being hit… Never disclose the source of pain or of joy, if you wish the one to cease and the other to endure.”

Balthasar Gracian
1601 – 1658 CE

Themes: Less is More

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“They should be ashamed of themselves, all these sober people!”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
1749 – 1832 CE

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

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“the difficulty is… that something can be both true and untrue at the same time… mankind cannot get on without a certain amount of absurdity.”

Arthur Schopenhauer
1788 – 1860 CE

Themes: Paradox

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“Everything terrible is something that needs our love.”

Rainer Maria Rilke
1875 – 1926 CE
Profound singer of universal music
from Duino Elegies

Themes: Golden Rule

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“An old grandfather of ninety was busy planting an almond tree. ‘What, grandfather!’ I exclaimed. ‘Planting an almond tree?’ And he, bent as he was, turned around and said: ‘My son, I carry on as if I should never die.’ I replied: ‘And I carry on as if I was going to die any minute.’ Which of us was right, boss?”

Nikos Kazantzakis
1883 – 1957 CE
from Zorba the Greek

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“Morals are the memory of success that no longer succeeds.”

William Carlos Williams
1883 – 1963 CE
from In the American Grain

Themes: Success Memory

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“A medicine man shouldn’t be a saint… He should be able to sink as low as a bug, or soar as high as an eagle…You can’t be so stuck up, so inhuman that you want to be pure, your sould wraped up in a plastic bag all the time.”

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

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

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“If it’s not a paradox, it’s not the truth.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
1904 – 1971 CE

Themes: Paradox

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“The conventional moral law purely has to do with relating with your conscience rather than dealing with situations… that means you don’t actually relate with the situation at all; you don’t even have any idea of understanding.”

Chögyam Trungpa
1939 – 1987 CE
from Journey Without Goal

Themes: Law and Order

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“We cannot find the beginning of the tantric thread unless we come to the conclusion that we do not exit.”

Chögyam Trungpa
1939 – 1987 CE
from Journey Without Goal

Themes: Egolessness

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“It’s getting dark, too dark to see
A big black cloud is coming down
I feel like I’m knocking on heaven’s door.”

Bob Dylan
1941 CE –

Themes: Letting Go

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“Lao-tzu’s path to wholeness is through incompleteness, but an incompleteness so incomplete that he is reduced to one thing.”

Red Pine or Bill Porter
1943 CE –

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