Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Chapter 43
No Effort, No Trace

Like water wearing through stone,
The soft and weak become more powerful
Than the strong and hard.
What doesn’t exit finds space anywhere.
This shows the value in not doing.
Beyond the understanding of all but a very few,
This is wordless wisdom,
Accomplishment without effort, without trace.

Commentary

“‘Perseverance furthers,’ for it is perseverance that make the difference between seduction and courtship.”

Fu Xi 伏羲 c. 2852–2737 BCE via Richard Wilhelm, Hexagram 31
Emperor/shaman progenitor of civilization symbol
from I Ching

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“Be not ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimes.”

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

Themes: Crime Mistakes

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“What doesn’t exist’ refers to the Tao. The Tao has no form or substance… We don’t see it do anything,and yet the ten thousand things are transformed and completed.”

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

Themes: Emptiness

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“To make no mistakes is not in the power of man; but from their errors and mistakes the wise and good learn wisdom for the future.”

Plutarch 46 – 120 CE
(Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus)

Themes: Mistakes

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“From time immemorial I have washed out stains but I cannot make charcoal white.”

Dhobīpa དྷོ་བཱི་པ། 806 – 906 CE via Keith Dowman
(“The Wise Washerman” )
Mahasiddha #28
from Masters of Mahamudra

Themes: Law and Order

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“Change your attitude and relax as it is.”

Atisha ཨ་ཏི་ཤ་མར་མེ་མཛད་དཔལ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ 980 – 1054 CE via Chögyam Trungpa
(Atiśa Dīpaṃkara Śrījñāna)
from Seven Points of Mind Training, Lojong བློ་སྦྱོངས་དོན་བདུན་མ;

Themes: Change

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“Do not leave any traces and inside and outside will merge into one totality.”

Hóngzhì Zhēngjué 宏智正覺 1091 – 1157 CE
(Shōgaku)

Themes: No Trace

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“Empty, cold and thin, simple and genuine.. when you turn within and drop off everything completely, realization occurs… Every detail clearly appears before you. Sound and form, echo and shadow, happen instantly without leaving traces.”

Hóngzhì Zhēngjué 宏智正覺 1091 – 1157 CE
(Shōgaku)

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“Words mean traces. Traces mean knowledge. Knowledge means presumption. Presumption means involvement. And involvement means failure.”

Deqing 1546 – 1623 CE
(Te-Ch’ing)

Themes: No Trace Failure

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“I made every mistake that can be made but I just kept pushing.”

René Descartes 1596 – 1650 CE

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“Let there be no unnecessary expenditure of either knowledge or power… too much display today and there will be nothing to show tomorrow.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

Themes: Power

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“If there is confusion in your head and in your heart, what more do you want! A man who no longer loves and no longer errs should have himself buried straight away.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE

Themes: Confusion

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“A hero is one who knows how to hang on one minute longer.”

Novalis 1772 – 1831 CE

Themes: Perseverance

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“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE

Themes: Perseverance

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“An arrow may fly through the air and leave no trace; but an ill thought leaves a trail like a serpent.”

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

Themes: No Trace Reason

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“The great enemy of knowledge is not error… One error conflicts with another, each destroys its opponent, and truth is evolved.”

Henry Thomas Buckle 1821 – 1862 CE
from History of Civilization

Themes: Truth Conflict

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“Constant effort and frequent mistakes are the stepping stones to genius.”

Elbert Hubbard 1856 – 1915 CE

Themes: Mistakes

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“People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition end by starving the best part of the mind.”

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

Themes: Philosophy

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“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Winston Churchill 1874 – 1965 CE

Themes: Success Failure

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“How you think when you lose determines how long it will be until you win.”

G. K. Chesterton 1874 – 1936 CE

Themes: Failure Success

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“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s that I stay with problems longer.”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE

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“time's ruins build eternity's mansions.”

James Joyce 1882 – 1941 CE
from Ulysses

Themes: Time

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“To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man's life.”

T. S. Eliot 1888 – 1965 CE

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“Mistakes are great, the more I make the smarter I get.”

Buckminster Fuller 1895 – 1983 CE

Themes: Mistakes

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“When you do something, you should burn yourself up completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi 1904 – 1971 CE

Themes: No Trace

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“You keep going. That is the bodhisattva’s way. As long as it benefits even one being you have to, without any sense of discouragement, go on.”

Karmapa XVI ཀརྨ་བཀའ་བརྒྱུད། 1924 – 1981 CE
(Rangjung Rigpe Dorje)
from Rangjung Rigpe Dorje

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“The painting is the trace of what’s left of the looking.”

Diane Kurz 1936 CE –
Painter of ordinary sacredness

Themes: Art

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“The fastest way to become successful is to make lots of mistakes.”

Paulo Lugari 1944 CE – via Alan Weisman

Themes: Success Mistakes

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“the bare nature of our mind, the naked state of our being, does not feel at all comfortable with these layers of conceptual, philosophical, and religious clothing that we are trying to put on.”

Dzogchen Pönlop 1965 CE –

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