Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
Search Quotes Search Sages Search Chapters

Chapter 38
Fruit Over Flowers

The highest goodness,
Not revealing or clinging to goodness
Has true goodness.
Lesser goodness tries to hold onto it
And therefore loses it.
The highest goodness involves no effort
Or the thought of effort.
Lesser goodness does nothing
But always has an end in view.

The good the truly good do
Has no end in view.
The good the righteous do
Always has a goal.

When those who act
in conventional obedience to the law
Don’t get their way,
They angrily roll up their sleeves
And try to control, threatening and compelling.

When we lose the Way,
We seek the power of goodness.
When we lose this,
We look to kindness.
When we lose kindness,
We look for justice.
When we lose justice,
We look to opinion: conventional wisdom,
Ritual & obedience to the law.

Opinion is the beginning of ignorance.
Belief is the beginning of delusion
Thinking of our delusion as wisdom
Is the beginning of mental illness
In an individual and a sick society
In politics and culture.

For these reasons,
The wise choose this over that,
The fruit over the flower,
Substance over surface,
The sense over the words,
This over that.

Commentary

“Educate the children and it won't be necessary to punish the men.”

Pythagorus 570 – 495 BCE
(of Samos)
"The most influential philosopher of all time"
from Golden Verses of Pythagoras Χρύσεα

Comments: Click to comment

“Examine my words the way a goldsmith examines gold. Don't just take my word because it is my word.”

The Buddha गौतम बुद्ध 563 – 483 BCE via Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche ཛི་གར་ཀོང་སྤྲུལ་
(Siddhartha Shakyamuni Gautama)
Awakened Truth

Themes: Teachers

Comments: Click to comment

“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”

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

Themes: Belief

Comments: Click to comment

“To insist on a spiritual practice that served you in the past is to carry the raft on your back after you have crossed the river.”

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

Themes: Letting Go

Comments: Click to comment

“I have shown you the methods that lead to liberation but you should know that liberation depends only upon yourself.”

The Buddha गौतम बुद्ध 563 – 483 BCE via Matthieu Ricard
(Siddhartha Shakyamuni Gautama)
Awakened Truth
from Journey to Enlightenment

Themes: Skillful Means

Comments: Click to comment

“The wisest men follow their own direction.”

Euripides 480 – 406 BCE
Ancient humanitarian influence continuing today

Themes: Teachers

Comments: Click to comment

“No trace of slavery ought to mix with studies… No study, pursued under compulsion, remains rooted in the memory.”

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

Themes: Education Slavery

Comments: Click to comment

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

Aristotle Ἀριστοτέλης 382 – 322 BCE

Themes: Doubt Reason

Comments: Click to comment

“Not to understand is profound; to understand is shallow. Not to understand is to be on the inside; to understand is to be on the outside.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE
(Zhuangzi)

Themes: Openness

Comments: Click to comment

“Drive your wagons on untrodden fields.”

Callimachus Καλλίμαχος 310 – 240 BCE

Themes: Creativity

Comments: Click to comment

“The wise leave the road and find the Way; fools cling to the Way and lose the road.”

Liú Ān 劉安 c. 179–122 BCE via Thomas Cleary
(Huainanzi)
from Huainanzi

Themes: Golden Chains

Comments: Click to comment

“To survive peril and quell disorder cannot be done without wisdom. Were it a matter of following precedents, even fools have more than enough. Therefore, enlightened leaders do not enforce useless laws or listen to ineffectual words.”

Liú Ān 劉安 c. 179–122 BCE via Thomas Cleary
(Huainanzi)
from Huainanzi

Themes: Leadership

Comments: Click to comment

“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.”

Seneca ˈsɛnɪkə 4 BCE – 65 CE
(Lucius Annaeus)

Themes: Skillful Means

Comments: Click to comment

“If you live with a lame man, you will learn to limp.”

Plutarch 46 – 120 CE
(Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus)

Comments: Click to comment

“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.”

Epictetus Ἐπίκτητος 55 – 135 CE
from Discourses of Epictetus, Ἐπικτήτου διατριβαί

Comments: Click to comment

“It is only our opinions and principles that can render us unhappy, and it is only the ignorant person that finds fault with another.”

Epictetus Ἐπίκτητος 55 – 135 CE
from Discourses of Epictetus, Ἐπικτήτου διατριβαί

Themes: Opinion

Comments: Click to comment

“As long as you look for a Buddha somewhere else, you'll never see that your own mind is the Buddha.”

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

Themes: Teachers

Comments: Click to comment

“To follow the path, look to the master, follow the master, walk with the master, see through the master, become the master.”

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

Themes: Teachers

Comments: Click to comment

“When shall I reveal this truth of emptiness to those who go to ruin through a belief in real existence?”

Shantideva ཞི་བ་ལྷ།།། 685 – 763 CE
(Bhusuku, Śāntideva)
from Bodhisattva Way of Life, Bodhicaryavatara

Comments: Click to comment

“unless students can forget the teacher, their vision will be obscured.”

Xuanzong 武隆基 685 – 756 CE
(Hsuan-Tsung or Wu Longji)

Themes: Forget Teachers

Comments: Click to comment

“If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha.

Rinzai Gigen 臨済義玄 ? - 866 CE via Irmgard Schloegl
(Línjì Yìxuán)
from Zen Teachings of Rinzai (Record of Rinzai), Irmgard Schloegl translation 1976

Comments: Click to comment

“Whatever the wise see becomes their teacher and their teachings.”

Catrapa ཙ་ཏྲ་པ། 750 – 850 CE via Shan Dao
("The Lucky Beggar")
Mahasiddha #23

Themes: Teachers

Comments: Click to comment

“I have never experienced the perfect reality that I teach.”

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

Comments: Click to comment

“One cannot be considered a swimmer if he needs a bridge.”

Milarepa རྗེ་བཙུན་མི་ལ་རས་པ། 1052 – 1135 CE

Themes: Teachers

Comments: Click to comment

“ten thousand sages are no more than footprints on the trail”

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

Comments: Click to comment

“We cannot live in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a hope. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening, to use our own voice, to see our own light.”

Hildegard of Bingen 1098 – 1179 CE

Themes: Teachers Hope

Comments: Click to comment

“No friend is better than your own wise heart [...] no one should be closer to you than your own consciousness.”

Genghis Khan 1162 – 1227 CE via Jack Weatherford

Comments: Click to comment

“The wise can investigate things for themselves but fools chase after whatever is popular.”

Sakya Pandita ས་སྐྱ་པཎྜ་ཏ་ཀུན་དགའ་རྒྱལ་མཚན། 1182 – 1251 CE via John T. Davenport
(Kunga Gyeltsen)
from Ordinary Wisdom, Sakya Legshe (Jewel Treasury of Good Advice)

Themes: Moral Freedom

Comments: Click to comment

“If you follow regulations, keeping the rules, you tie yourself without rope but if you act any which way without inhibition you're a heretical demon.”

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

Themes: Middle Way

Comments: Click to comment

“any object you have in your mind, however good, will be a barrier between you and the inmost Truth.”

Meister Eckhart 1260 – 1328 CE
(Eckhart von Hochheim)

Comments: Click to comment

“Truth is something so noble that if God could turn aside from it, I could keep the truth and let God go.”

Meister Eckhart 1260 – 1328 CE
(Eckhart von Hochheim)

Themes: Truth

Comments: Click to comment

“I've burned my own house down, the torch is in my hand. Now I'll burn down the house of anyone who wants to follow me.”

Kabīr कबीर 1399 – 1448 CE via Linda Hess and Shukdeo Singh.
from Bijak of Kabir

Themes: Golden Chains

Comments: Click to comment

“Whoever refers to authorities in disputing ideas works with his memory rather than with this reason.”

Leonardo da Vinci 1452 – 1519 CE

Themes: Memory

Comments: Click to comment

“Don’t let yourself be frightened by your own thoughts.”

Teresa of Avila 1515 – 1582 CE
from Way of Perfection

Themes: Fear

Comments: Click to comment

“I distrust my present thoughts hardly less than my past ones and my second or third thoughts hardly less than my first.”

Montaigne 1533 – 1592 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“Nothing is so firmly believed as that which is least known.”

Montaigne 1533 – 1592 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority.”

Giordano Bruno 1548 – 1600 CE

Themes: Conformity

Comments: Click to comment

“Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority.”

Francis Bacon 1561 – 1626 CE

Themes: Truth

Comments: Click to comment

“You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself.”

Galileo 1564 – 1642 CE

Themes: Education

Comments: Click to comment

“Be thine own palace, or the world's thy jail.”

John Donne 1572 – 1631 CE

Themes: Integrity

Comments: Click to comment

“Every fool is fully convinced, and everyone fully convinced is a fool; the more erroneous his judgment, the more firmly he hold it.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE

Themes: Doubt

Comments: Click to comment

“Men are mistaken in thinking themselves free; their opinion is made up of consciousness of their own actions, and ignorance of the causes by which they are determined.”

Baruch Spinoza 1632 – 1677 CE

Themes: Opinion

Comments: Click to comment

“Cherish those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE

Themes: Education

Comments: Click to comment

“Dare to think for yourself.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“let him discover it. If ever you substitute authority for reason he will cease to reason; he will be a mere plaything of other people's thoughts.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712 – 1778 CE

Themes: Reason

Comments: Click to comment

“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE

Themes: Basic Goodness

Comments: Click to comment

“Buddha is a conception of your mind, The Way isn’t anything that is made… If to reach the south you point your cart north, when can you ever hope to arrive?”

Ryokan 良寛大愚 1758 – 1758 CE
(Ryōkan Taigu,“The Great Fool”)

Comments: Click to comment

“Even if all the Buddhas were to appear before me, I would have no doubts for them to clarify.”

Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol ཞབས་དཀར་ཚོགས་དྲུག་རང་གྲོལ། 1781 – 1851 CE via Matthieu Ricard
from Life of Shabkar: The Autobiography of a Tibetan Yogin

Themes: Enlightenment

Comments: Click to comment

“there are very few who can think, but every man wants to have an opinion; and what remains but to take it ready-made from others, instead of forming opinions for himself?”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE

Themes: Opinion

Comments: Click to comment

“People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE

Themes: Opinion

Comments: Click to comment

“I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.”

Abraham Lincoln 1809 – 1865 CE

Themes: Integrity

Comments: Click to comment

“Credulity is always greatest in times of calamity. Prophecies of all sorts are rife on such occasions, and are readily believed.”

Charles Mackay 1814 – 1889 CE
from Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Themes: Belief Fanaticism

Comments: Click to comment

“There will never be a really free and enlightened state until the state comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived.”

Henry David Thoreau 1817 – 1862 CE
Father of environmentalism and America's first yogi
from On the Duty of Civil Disobedience

Comments: Click to comment

“The arts and sciences, and a thousand appliances: the wind that blows is all that anybody knows.”

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

Comments: Click to comment

“If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war.”

Leo Tolstoy 1828 – 1910 CE

Themes: War

Comments: Click to comment

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

Mark Twain 1835 – 1910 CE
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)

Themes: Education

Comments: Click to comment

“In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”

Mark Twain 1835 – 1910 CE
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)

Themes: Religion Belief

Comments: Click to comment

“If a million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.”

Anatole France 1844 – 1924 CE
(Jacques Anatole Thibault)

Themes: Conformity

Comments: Click to comment

“He who obeys, does not listen to himself!”

Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 – 1900 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“One repays a teacher badly if one always remains nothing but a pupil.”

Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 – 1900 CE
from Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Comments: Click to comment

“To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.”

Robert Louis Stevenson 1850 – 1894 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“The object of teaching a child is to enable him to get along without a teacher.”

Elbert Hubbard 1856 – 1915 CE

Themes: Teachers

Comments: Click to comment

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

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

Themes: Education

Comments: Click to comment

“Conscious faith is freedom. Emotional faith is slavery. Mechanical faith is foolishness.”

G. I. Gurdjieff 1866 – 1949 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“Without a gentle contempt for education no man's education is complete.”

G. K. Chesterton 1874 – 1936 CE

Themes: Education

Comments: Click to comment

“The real struggle is not between East and West, or capitalism and communism, but between education and propaganda.”

Martin Buber מרטין בובר‎‎ 1878 – 1965 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth.”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE

Themes: Truth Teachers

Comments: Click to comment

“There can be no rebirth without a dark night of the soul, a total annihilation of all that you believed in and thought that you were.”

Inayat Khan 1882 – 1927 CE

Themes: Problems

Comments: Click to comment

“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“I am convinced that every effort must be made in childhood to teach the young to use their own minds. For one thing is sure: If they don't make up their minds, someone will do it for them.”

Eleanor Roosevelt 1884 – 1962 CE

Themes: Education

Comments: Click to comment

“Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“When liberty exceeds intelligence, it begets chaos, which begets dictatorship.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“For last year's words belong to last year's language. And next year's words await another voice.”

T. S. Eliot 1888 – 1965 CE
from Four Quartets

Comments: Click to comment

“The teachings of Buddha are eternal, but even then Buddha did not proclaim them to be infallible.”

B.R. Ambedkar 1891 – 1956 CE
(Babasaheb)

Themes: Buddhism

Comments: Click to comment

“The really hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE

Themes: Conformity

Comments: Click to comment

“The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers.”

Eric Fromm 1900 – 1980 CE
from The Sane Society

Comments: Click to comment

“We look at the present through a rear view mirror. We march backwards into the future.”

Marshall McLuhan 1911 – 1980 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“We learn to do something by doing it. There is no other way.”

John Holt 1923 – 1985 CE
from How Children Fail

Themes: Skillful Means

Comments: Click to comment

“Seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, challenge them, and unless a justification… dismantle to increase the scope of human freedom.”

Noam Chomsky 1928 CE –
from Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media

Themes: Teachers Freedom

Comments: Click to comment

“The word I render as ‘opinion’ can be read as ‘knowing too soon’: the mind obeying orders, judging before the evidence is in closed to fruitful perception and learning… Buddhists and Taoists agree in having a very low opinion of opinion.”

Ursula Le Guin 1929 – 2018 CE
from Lao Tzu - A Book about the Way and the Power of the Way

Themes: Opinion

Comments: Click to comment

“If one can only see things according to one's own belief system, one is destined to become virtually deaf, dumb, and blind.”

Robert Anton Wilson 1932 – 2007 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“If one can only see things according to one's own belief system, one is destined to become virtually deaf, dumb, and blind.

Robert Anton Wilson 1932 – 2007 CE

Themes: Belief

Comments: Click to comment

“We are all capable of becoming fundamentalists because we get addicted to other people's wrongness.”

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

Comments: Click to comment

“Avoid teams at all cost - there is no ‘I’ in team… but there is an ‘I’ in independence, individuality and integrity.”

George Carlin 1937 – 2008 CE
One of the most influential social commentators of his time

Themes: Integrity

Comments: Click to comment

“Whether it is a vacuum cleaner salesman or a guru, we find the same level of salesmanship.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Illusion's Game

Themes: Teachers

Comments: Click to comment

“The search for an external protector has met with no success.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE via Nalanda Translation Committee
from Sadhana of Mahamudra

Themes: Conformity

Comments: Click to comment

“…you are without set ideas and patterns; you are not bound by any social, philosophical, or religious standards. You are free from that indoctrination; therefore you are able to see…”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Journey Without Goal

Comments: Click to comment

“The more I see, the less I know for sure.”

John Lennon 1940 – 1980 CE

Themes: Wisdom

Comments: Click to comment

“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

Bob Dylan 1941 CE –

Themes: Belief

Comments: Click to comment

“Don’t follow leaders, watch the parking meters.”

Bob Dylan 1941 CE –

Comments: Click to comment

“Please use your liberty to promote ours.”

Aung San Suu Kyi အောင်ဆန်းစုကြည် 1945 CE –

Themes: Freedom

Comments: Click to comment

“Nobody’s easier to fool, than the person who is convinced that he is right.”

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE – via Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel
from 1Q84

Themes: Belief

Comments: Click to comment

“At the point of total realization, you must abandon Buddhism. The spiritual path is a temporary solution, a placebo to be used until emptiness is understood.”

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: Buddhism

Comments: Click to comment

“Normal is whatever you have come to take for granted.”

David Mitchell 1969 CE –

Themes: Ignorance

Comments: Click to comment

 

Comments (0)

Please log in or create an account to comment.