Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Chapter 39
Oneness

The oneness of life
Displays itself in its parts:
Clarity expresses oneness in the sky,
Stillness expresses oneness in the earth,
Purity express oneness in spirit.
Valleys express oneness when they flow with rivers,
When the 10,000 creatures realize oneness,
They flourish,
When leaders realize oneness,
They bring peace to the world.

Without clarity, heaven would crack;
Without stillness, the earth would crumble;
Without purity, spirit would dissolve;
Without fullness, valleys would dry up;
Without humility, leaders would fall.

Because the high is built on the foundation of the low,
And humility is the root of greatness,
Good leaders call themselves
Orphaned, widowed, destitute.
Who will keep chasing after the clink of treasure
After they have heard stone growing on a cliff?

Commentary

“‘Love' is the name for our pursuit of wholeness, for our desire to be complete.”

Plato Πλάτων
428 – 348 BCE

Themes: Enlightenment

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“He was a wise man who invented God.”

Plato Πλάτων
428 – 348 BCE

Themes: God

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“Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist”

Epicurus ɛpɪˈkjɔːrəs
341 – 270 BCE
from On Nature

Themes: Death and Dying

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“Death, of all estimated evils, is the only one whose presence… only causes concern during its absence.”

Arcesilaus Ἀρκεσίλαος
316 – 241 BCE

Themes: Death and Dying

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“A good man never dies.”

Callimachus Καλλίμαχος
310 – 240 BCE

Themes: Death and Dying

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“It’s because Heaven becomes one that it graces the sky with constellations and light. It’s because Earth becomes one that it remains still and immovable… It’s because kings become one that they pacify the world. But Heaven must move between yin and yang.”

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

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“The ‘One’ in Ho-shang Kung’s commentary means the essence of Tao… the ‘One’ is the ‘key’ or ‘kernal’ of the Way.”

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

Themes: Oneness

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“in the beginning the Eloheim created mortals male and female; they were one body, perfectly united and absolutely equal…. when you are redeemed from the Fall, male and female will cease to exist, you will become a perfect whole, accomplishing a single work.”

Jesus via Didymos Thomas
3 BCE – 30 CE
from Gospel According to Thomas

Themes: Oneness Marriage

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“All Buddhas past, present and future have one essence. Understand this essence and you will discover your mind’s true nature.”

Āryadeva འཕགས་པ་ལྷ།
(Kannadeva)
3rd C. CE
from Four Hundred Verses on the Yogic Deeds of Bodhisattvas

Themes: Buddhism Mind

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“Looking outward we see many faces; look inward and all is one head. If a man could but be turned about, he would see at once God and himself and the All.”

Plotinus
204 – 249 CE
from Enneads Ἐννεάδες Plotinus / Porphyry

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“One is the beginning of numbers and the end of things. All things become complete when they become one. But… by focusing on being complete, they lose their mother… they crack, they crumble… their mother has no form.”

Wang Bi 王弼
226 – 534 CE

Themes: Oneness

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“The ways to the One are as many as the lives of men.”

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

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“Understanding the unity of multiplicity is meditation.”

Bhadrapa
8th C. CE

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“If you have genuine insight, birth and death will not affect you.”

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

Themes: Death and Dying

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“those who seek for something objective outside their own minds have all turned their backs on the Way…Buddhas and sentient beings do not differ at all.”

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

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“Oneness dwells in the humble, but it is not humble. Oneness is not like the luster of jade – so noble it cannot be humble – or the coarseness of rock – so humble it cannot be noble.”

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

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“Everything that is in the heavens, on earth, and under the earth is penetrated with connectedness, penetrated with relatedness.”

Hildegard of Bingen
1098 – 1179 CE

Themes: Oneness

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“Rivers of living water are to be poured out over the whole world, to ensure that people, like fishes caught in a net, can be restored to wholeness.”

Hildegard of Bingen
1098 – 1179 CE

Themes: Water

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“If you would be free of this suffering, see the workings of your mind as but a single thought.”

Kālapa ཀཱ་ལ་པ། via Keith Dowman
("The Handsome Madman")
12th century CE
Mahasiddha #27
from Masters of Mahamudra

Themes: Suffering

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“When you get to the top of the mountain, keep climbing.”

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

Themes: Inspiration

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“All is in all, all is in one, and all is ours.

Meister Eckhart
(Eckhart von Hochheim)
1260 – 1328 CE

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“Love is the crowning grace of humanity, the holiest right of the soul, the golden link which binds us to duty and truth, the redeeming principle that chiefly reconciles the heart to life, and is prophetic of eternal good.”

Petrarch
1304 – 1374 CE

Themes: Love Shambhala

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“Study the art of science… Realize that everything connects to everything else.”

Leonardo da Vinci
1452 – 1519 CE

Themes: Oneness Art Science

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“As a day well spent makes it sweet to sleep, so a life well used makes it sweet to die.”

Leonardo da Vinci
1452 – 1519 CE

Themes: Death and Dying

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“Union is as if in a room there were two large windows through which the light streamed in it enters in different places but it all becomes one.”

Teresa of Avila
1515 – 1582 CE
from Way of Perfection

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“My soul is in the sky.”

William Shakespeare
1564 – 1616 CE
from A Midsummer Night's Dream

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“Death, be not proud, though some have called thee mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so… And Death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.”

John Donne
1572 – 1631 CE

Themes: Death and Dying

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“All deities reside within the human breast.”

William Blake
1757 – 1827 CE

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“God wants there to be gods.”

Novalis
1772 – 1831 CE

Themes: God

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“The seat of the soul is where the inner world and the outer world meet. Where they overlap, it is in every point of the overlap.”

Novalis
1772 – 1831 CE

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“All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.”

Leo Tolstoy
1828 – 1910 CE

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“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”

Mark Twain
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
1835 – 1910 CE

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“Peace will come to the hearts of men when they realize their oneness with the universe. It is every where.”

Black Elk
(Heȟáka Sápa)
1863 – 1950 CE

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“Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.”

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

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“Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.”

Willa Cather
1873 – 1948 CE
Modern day Lao Tzu

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“The spirit that penetrates all things is the World Soul... filling all things, binding and knitting together all things that might make one frame of the world.”

Carl Jung
1875 – 1961 CE

Themes: God Oneness

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“Our duty, as men and women, is to proceed as if limits to our ability did not exist. We are collaborators in creation.”

Teilhard de Chardin via Bernard Wall
1881 – 1955 CE
from Phenomenon of Man

Themes: Skillful Means

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“I have seen all souls as my soul, and realized my soul as the soul of all.”

Inayat Khan
1882 – 1927 CE

Themes: Oneness

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“The truth is that we all are one, that all of us together create god, that god is not man's ancestor, but his descendant.”

Nikos Kazantzakis
1883 – 1957 CE
from Last Temptation of Christ

Themes: God Oneness

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“The harmony of the part with the whole may be the best definition of health, beauty, truth, wisdom, morality, and happiness.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant
1885 – 1981 CE
from Heroes of History

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“Dualism... Without it there can hardly be good literature. With it, there most certainly can be no good life.”

Aldous Huxley
1894 – 1963 CE
from Island

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“People living deeply have no fear of death.”

Anais Nin
1903 – 1977 CE

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“Our life and death are the same thing. When we realize this fact we have no fear of death anymore,nor actual difficulty in our life… When you can sit with your whole body and mind, and with the oneness of your mind and body under the control of the universal mind, you can easily attain this kind of right understanding.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
1904 – 1971 CE

Themes: Oneness

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“In truth we are not separate from each other or from the world… there is just one mysteriously palpitating aliveness.”

Toni Packer
1927 – 2013 CE

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“The mind that becomes one with the universe is before thinking.”

Seungsahn 숭산행원대선사
(Soen Sa Nim)
1927 – 2004 CE

Themes: Oneness

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“It is important to bear in mind that political campaigns are designed by the same people who sell toothpaste and cars.”

Noam Chomsky
1928 CE –

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“Forget yourself. Become one with eternity. Become part of your environment.”

Yayoi Kusama 草間 彌生
1929 CE –

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“Lao Tzu thinks the materialistic dualist, who tries to ignore the body and live in the head, and the religious dualist, who despises the body and lives for a reward in heaven, are both dangerous and in danger.”

Ursula Le Guin
1929 – 2018 CE

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“Although we are in different boats you in your boat and we in our canoe we share the same river of life.”

Oren Lyons
1930 CE –

Themes: Oneness

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“Our ancient experience confirms at every point that everything is linked together, everything is inseparable.”

Dalai Lama XIV Tenzin Gyatso
1935 CE –

Themes: Oneness

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“The nonexistence of a dualistic barrier does not quite mean that we are one, but that we are zero.”

Chögyam Trungpa
1939 – 1987 CE
from Journey Without Goal

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“Like a child at the cinema, we get caught up in the illusion. From this comes all of our vanity, ambition, and insecurity. We fall in love with the illusions we have created and develop excessive pride in our appearance, our possessions, and our accomplishments. It’s like wearing a mask and proudly thinking that the mask is really you.”

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche རྫོང་གསར་ འཇམ་དབྱངས་ མཁྱེན་བརྩེ་ རིན་པོ་ཆེ།
(Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche)
1961 CE –
"Activity" incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
from What Makes You Not a Buddhist

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“Love is fusion in the sun’s core. Love is blurring of pronouns. Love is subject and object. the difference between its presence and its absence is the difference between life and death.”

David Mitchell
1969 CE –

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“But when you see death, things change. It doesn’t matter if you can’t smile or blink properly”

Malala Yousafzai ملالہ یوسفزئی
1997 CE –
from I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

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  1. Shan Dao
    For Lao Tzu, Zero seems to mean emptiness; One, wholeness; and Two, duality.