Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Chapter 35
The Power of Goodness

Stabilize awareness
And the world will arise
Safe, serene, and at peace.

Music, fancy food, and entertainment
Make wayfarers briefly pause
While the Tao
Seems flat and insipid,
Without substance or flavor.
It looks like nothing much,
It sounds like nothing much,
We look but don’t see it,
We listen but don’t hear it.

Commentary

“An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind.”

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

Themes: Friendship Evil

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“I do not want a friend who smiles when I smile, who weeps when I weep. My shadow in a pond can do better than that.”

Confucius 孔丘
(Kongzi, Kǒng Zǐ)
551 – 479 BCE
History's most influential "failure"

Themes: Friendship

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“Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.”

Socrates
469 – 399 BCE
One of the most powerful influences on Western Civilization

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“Without friends, no one would want to live, even if he had all other goods.”

Aristotle Ἀριστοτέλης
382 – 322 BCE

Themes: Friendship

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“Where is Tao? There is nowhere it is not to be found… It is in the ant… It is in the weeds… it is in this turd… Tao is great in all things, complete in all, universal in all, whole in all.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周
(Zhuangzi)
369 – 286 BCE

Themes: Taoism

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“We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink.”

Epicurus ɛpɪˈkjɔːrəs
341 – 270 BCE
from On Nature

Themes: Friendship

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“carpe diem (seize the day)… As we speak, cruel time is fleeing. Seize the day, believing as little as possible in the morrow.”

Horace
65 – 8 BCE

Themes: Here and Now

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“Adversity is the only balance to weigh friends.”

Plutarch
(Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus)
46 – 120 CE

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“Your days are numbered. Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun. If you do not, the sun will soon set, and you with it.”

Marcus Aurelius
121 – 219 CE

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“I do not care about a thousand years - let me only make this morning last forever.”

Tao Yuanming
365 – 427 CE

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“The world was easier to understand when choices fell away. It was like understanding a tree when all the leaves dropped: There it was, the pattern of the boughs, the tree itself.”

Hilda of Whitby
614 – 680 CE

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“Our very nature is buddha, and apart from this nature there is no other buddha.”

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

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“Whoever realizes that from the very beginning there has been nothing other than mind, has acquired the realization of all the Buddhas of the three times.”

Saraha
8th century CE

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“The intrinsic nature of all things is infinite space.”

Dukhandhi དུ་ཁངྡྷི་པ། via Keith Dowman
("The Scavenger")
798 – 898 CE
Mahasiddha #25
from Masters of Mahamudra

Themes: Emptiness

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“…since you are fundamentally complete in every respect, you should not try to supplement that perfection by such meaningless practices… Only awake to the One Mind, and thre is nothing whatsoever to be attained.”

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

Themes: Meaningfulness

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“Although it has no taste, shape, or sound with which to please people, those who use it can never exhaust it.”

Su Che 呂洞
1039 – 1112 CE

Themes: One Taste

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“Wherever you are is the entry point.”

Kabīr कबीर
1399 – 1448 CE

Themes: Here and Now

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“The closer one approaches to God, the simpler one becomes”

Teresa of Avila
1515 – 1582 CE
from Way of Perfection

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“The wise rule the world through selflessness. All things come to them because they are one with all things.”

Deqing
(Te-Ch’ing)
1546 – 1623 CE

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“We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand--and melting like a snowflake...”

Francis Bacon
1561 – 1626 CE

Themes: Here and Now

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“Although there are many wonderful spiritual techniques, by far the best practice is the unification of luminosity and emptiness.”

Karma Chagme Rinpoche I ཀརྨ་ཆགས་མེད་རཱ་ག་ཨ་སྱས། via Shan Dao
1613 – 1678 CE

Themes: Oneness

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“Sitting quietly, doing nothing, Spring comes, and the grass grows, by itself.”

Matsuo Bashō 松尾 芭蕉
1644 – 1694 CE

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“Every second is of infinite value.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
1749 – 1832 CE

Themes: Meaningfulness

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“I have never yet met a man who was quite awake… with an infinite expectation of the dawn… the day is a perpetual morning… I went to the woods… to see if I could learn what it had to teach and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

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

Themes: Meaningfulness

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“You meet people who forget you. You forget people you meet. But sometimes you meet those people you can't forget. Those are your 'friends.”

Mark Twain
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
1835 – 1910 CE

Themes: Friendship Memory

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“We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.”

Robert Louis Stevenson
1850 – 1894 CE

Themes: Travel

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“It is in the darkness of their eyes that men get lost.”

Black Elk
(Heȟáka Sápa)
1863 – 1950 CE

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“Journalism largely consists in saying, "Lord Jones is dead" to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive.”

G. K. Chesterton
1874 – 1936 CE

Themes: Entertainment

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“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”

Eleanor Roosevelt
1884 – 1962 CE

Themes: Friendship

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“A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time, not on the spot, not here and now… but somewhere else, in the irrelevant other worlds of sport and soap opera… will find it hard to resist the encroachments of those who would manipulate and control it.”

Aldous Huxley
1894 – 1963 CE

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“So to be a human being is to be a Buddha… the most important thing is to express your true nature in the simplest, most adequate way and to appreciate it in the smallest existence.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
1904 – 1971 CE

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“True friends are families which you can select.”

Audrey Hepburn
1929 – 1993 CE

Themes: Friendship

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“One can appreciate and celebrate each moment — there’s nothing more sacred. There’s nothing more vast or absolute. In fact, there’s nothing more!”

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

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“The great setting sun of the West has provided us with beautiful, comfortable conditions for living our life, like central heating, air-conditioning, taxicabs, and numerous other conveniences. But that setting-sun approach has provided us purely with a comfortable way to die.”

Chögyam Trungpa via Judith Lief
1939 – 1987 CE
from Tantric Path of Indestructible Wakefulness

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“The great setting sun of the West has provided us with beautiful, comfortable conditions for living our life, like central heating, air-conditioning, taxicabs, and numerous other conveniences. But that setting-sun approach has provided us purely with a comfortable way to die.”

Chögyam Trungpa
1939 – 1987 CE

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“When we find… something familiar, we are dying to get on to the next… and we rush. We are constantly looking for. We don’t really want to read the pages of life properly and we panic.”

Chögyam Trungpa
1939 – 1987 CE
from Journey Without Goal

Themes: Desire

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“Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV, and you think you're so clever and classless and free… A working class hero is something to be.”

John Lennon
1940 – 1980 CE

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Comments (1)

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  1. Shan Dao
    “Stabilize awareness” is a stretch from other translations. Red Pine uses, “Hold up the Great Image,” Le Guin says “Hold fast to the great thought.” Our translation was inspired by a comment on this chapter by Cheng Xuanying (647-663 CE), “Here ‘hold’ means to hold without holding, to hold what cannot be held.”