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 via Richard Wilhelm, Hexagram 31
c. 2852–2737 BCE
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
(Kongzi, Kǒng Zǐ)
551 – 479 BCE
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
(Ho-shang Kung or "Riverside Sage”)
202 – 157 BCE

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
(Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus)
46 – 120 CE

Themes: Mistakes

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

Dhobīpa དྷོ་བཱི་པ། via Keith Dowman
(“The Wise Washerman” )
806 – 906 CE
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་ via Chögyam Trungpa
(Atiśa Dīpaṃkara Śrījñāna)
980 – 1054 CE
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
(Shōgaku)
1091 – 1157 CE

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
(Shōgaku)
1091 – 1157 CE

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

Deqing
(Te-Ch’ing)
1546 – 1623 CE

Themes: No Trace Failure

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

Descartes 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.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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

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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

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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

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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།
(Rangjung Rigpe Dorje)
1924 – 1981 CE
from Rangjung Rigpe Dorje

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

Diane Kurz
1936 CE –

Themes: Art

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

Paulo Lugari via Alan Weisman
1944 CE –

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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