Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Chapter 25
The Mother of All Things

Something that contains everything,
Quiet and still, pure and deep;
Here before heaven and earth,
Alone and unchanging
Like a mother bringing up her children
Formless, it completes all things.

Not knowing its real name,
We call it the Way.
Not knowing how to describe it,
We call it sacred.
Sacred means always and never changing.
Always changing means indefinable.
Not defining means returning to this.

So the Way is sacred -
Heaven, Earth, and Humankind - all sacred.
Humankind imitates Earth,
Earth imitates Heaven,
Heaven imitates the Way,
And the Way follows what is
As the mother of all things.

Commentary

“Men call women faithless, changeable, and though they say it in jealousy of their own ever-threatened sexual honor, there is some truth in it... As the moon changes yet is one, so we are virgin, wife, mother, grandmother.”

Lavinia via Ursula Le Guin
12th C. BCE
Prophetess and co-foundrer of the Roman Empire
from Lavinia

Themes: Moon Sex

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“How wonderful! How wonderful! All things are perfect, exactly as they are.”

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

Themes: Basic Goodness

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“Let parents then bequeath to their children not riches but the spirit of reverence.”

Plato Πλάτων
428 – 348 BCE
from Republic Πολιτεία

Themes: Family

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“The Tao begins in the relation between man and woman, ends in the infinite vastness of the universe.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周
(Zhuangzi)
369 – 286 BCE

Themes: Sex Marriage

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“The Tao is great because there is nothing it does not encompass… It gives without seeking a reward it nourishes all creatures and takes nothing for itself… the nature of the Tao is to be itself. It does not imitate anything else.”

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

Themes: One Taste

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“Deluded, we call pearls broken piece of pottery; awakened we see them as pearls.”

Dazu Huike via Shan Dao
(Dz Huk)
487 – 593 CE

Themes: Sacred World

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“Knock on the sky and listen to the sound.”

Jianzhi Sengcan 鑑智僧璨
(Jiànzhì Sēngcàn)
529 – 606 CE

Themes: Non-Thought

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“Everything is one's own mind. Not so much as an atom exists outside of mind.”

Saraha
8th century CE

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“Loosed, and it flows through the galaxies
A fountain of light, into the very mind –
Not a thing, and yet it appears before me.”

Han Shan
(Cold Mountain)
c. 730-850 CE

Themes: Emptiness

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“Every phenomenon that exists is a creation of thought; therefore I need but empty my mind to disover that all of them are void… all the Buddhas of the whole universe do not in fact possess the smallest perceptible attribute.”

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

Themes: Emptiness

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“Appearances, sound, and phenomena are your own mind. There are no phenomena apart from mind.”

Niguma
11th C. CE

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“Realization of mind’s nature is the king.”

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

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“Regard everyone you meet as the Buddha.”

Gampopa སྒམ་པོ་པ། via Herbert Guenther
(Sönam Rinchen, Dakpo Rinpoche)
1079 – 1153 CE
from Jewel Ornament of Liberation

Themes: Sacred World

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“Like the moon overwhelming the darkness, from the beginning just beam through all gloom.”

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

Themes: Moon

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“Lovely snowflakes, they fall nowhere else!”

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

Themes: Sacred World

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“Moonlight floods the whole sky from horizon to horizon;
How much it can fill your room depends on its windows.”

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: Moon

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“Love, what a strange and wonderful thing that can give me life and deprive me of wits.”

Gaspara Stampa via Jane Tylus
1523 – 1554 CE
from The Complete Poems

Themes: Love

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“The wise support others with warmth, a warmth that requires genuine practice, true application barring insult and attack, bearing all difficulty, hardship, sickness, and calamity, just as the earth supports the mountains.”

Liu Yiming 刘一明 via Thomas Cleary, Shan Dao
(Liu I-ming)
1734 – 1821 CE
from Taoist I Ching, , Zhouyi chanzhen 周易闡真

Themes: Kindness

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“my senses discover'd the infinite in every thing.”

William Blake
1757 – 1827 CE

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“Besides the mind, there is no other Dharma. Therefore, you have no other action to carry out somewhere else.”

Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol ཞབས་དཀར་ཚོགས་དྲུག་རང་གྲོལ། via Erik Pema Kunsang
1781 – 1851 CE
from Flight of the Garuda

Themes: Ordinary Mind

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“Envy is ignorance, imitation is Suicide.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
1803 – 1882 CE

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“To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.”

Emily Dickinson
1830 – 1886 CE

Themes: Time Here and Now

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“All over the sky a sacred voice is calling your name.”

Black Elk
(Heȟáka Sápa)
1863 – 1950 CE

Themes: Sacred World

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“At the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit. And that center is really everywhere. It is within each of us.”

Black Elk
(Heȟáka Sápa)
1863 – 1950 CE

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“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

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

Themes: Magic

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“the majestic reality, the flood of energy, which now revealed itself to him: omnipresent, unalterable in its truth, relentless in its development, untouchable in its serenity, maternal and unfailing in its protectiveness.”

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

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“the highest point a man can attain is not Knowledge, or Virtue, or Goodness, or Victory, but something even greater, more heroic and more despairing: Sacred Awe!”

Nikos Kazantzakis
1883 – 1957 CE
from Zorba the Greek

Themes: Sacred World

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“We always want to alter the outer hoping thereby to change the inner…I think we miss this basic thing, which is; the world is me and I am the world.”

Krishnamurti
(Jiddu Krishnamurti)
1895 – 1986 CE
from Awakening of Intelligence

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“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
1900 – 1944 CE

Themes: Contemplation

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“Wherever you go, you will find your teacher.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
1904 – 1971 CE

Themes: Teachers

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“All aspects of every phenomenon are completely clear and lucid, the universe is open and unobstructed, everything mutually interpenetrating.”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche དིལ་མགོ་མཁྱེན་བརྩེ།
1910 – 1991 CE
"Mind" incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
from Maha Ati

Themes: Oneness

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“Everything is beautiful. We have all this beauty in the world and all we have to do is reach out and touch it, it is all there…”

Charles Bukowski
1920 – 1994 CE
from Women

Themes: Beauty

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“God is always present. The question is, how present are we?”

Reb Zalman
1924 – 2014 CE
from Paradigm Shift

Themes: God

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“Everything is holy! everybody's holy! everywhere is holy! everyday is in eternity! Everyman's an angel!”

Allen Ginsberg
1926 – 1997 CE

Themes: Sacred World

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“The Way itself is a follower. Though it is before everything, it follows what is.”

Ursula Le Guin
1929 – 2018 CE

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“All things are bound together, all things connect. Whatever befalls the earth, befalls also the children of the earth.”

Oren Lyons
1930 CE –

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“Wisdom is innate, not distant from ourselves. It’s what we are.”

Gesshin Myoko Roshi
1931 – 1999 CE

Themes: Wisdom

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“A stick becomes a flute when it's loved.”

Yoko Ono 小野 洋子
(“Ocean Child”)
1933 CE –

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“It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed.”

Wendell Berry
1934 CE –

Themes: Problems

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“Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all.”

Pema Chödrön
(Deirdre Blomfield-Brown)
1936 CE –
First American Vajrayana nun

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“Energy is openness and all-pervasiveness. It is constantly expanding. It is decentralized energy, a sense of flood, ocean, outer space, the light of the sun and moon.”

Chögyam Trungpa
1939 – 1987 CE
from Illusion's Game

Themes: Openness

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“the only way to grow up and mature further is through further openness to the world… this is realization of the sacredness of the universe and of yourself.”

Chögyam Trungpa
1939 – 1987 CE
from Illusion's Game

Themes: Sacred World

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“We all shine on...like the moon and the stars and the sun...we all shine on...come on and on and on...”

John Lennon
1940 – 1980 CE

Themes: Moon

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“The Tao begins in the relation between man and woman, and ends in the infinite vastness of the universe.”

Stephen Mitchell
1943 CE –
from Second Book of Tao

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“To Chinese Buddhists the Tao was synonymous with the One Mind or Pure Consciousness which they held to be not only the impersonal creator, but the very substance (or rather ‘non-substance’) of the entire universe.”

Red Pine or Bill Porter
1943 CE –

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