Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Chapter 44
Fame and Fortune

Which means more to you –
Health or wealth?
What matters more –
Fame or your true name?
Which gives more pain –
Loss or gain?

The more we love something,
The more it will cost.
The bigger the treasure,
The more will be lost.
Contentment keeps disgrace away,
Knowing when to stop keeps danger at bay.

Commentary

“Hell has three gates: lust, anger and greed.”

Vyasa व्यास c. 3000 BCE
Hindu immortals, Vishnu avatar, 5th incarnation of Brahma
from Mahābhārata महाभारतम्

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“It is only when we have the courage to face things exactly as they are, without any sort of self deception or illusion, that a light will develop out of events by which the path to success may be recognized.”

Fu Xi 伏羲 c. 2852–2737 BCE via Richard Wilhelm, Hexagram 5
Emperor/shaman progenitor of civilization symbol
from I Ching

Themes: Deception

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“I say no wealth is worth my life!”

Homer 850 BCE - ?
Primogenitor of Western culture

Themes: Wealth

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“I consider the positions of kings and rulers as that of dust motes. I observe treasure of gold and gems as so many bricks and pebbles.”

Buddha गौतम बुद्ध 563 – 483 BCE
(Siddhartha Shakyamuni Gautama)
Awakened Truth
from Dhammapada धम्मपद

Themes: Fame Wealth

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“The community which has neither poverty nor riches will always have the noblest principles.”

Protagoras 490 – 420 BCE
“The wisest man alive”—Socrates

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“There are three classes of men; lovers of wisdom, lovers of honor, and lovers of gain.”

Plato Πλάτων 428 – 348 BCE

Themes: Integrity

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“If we are content with whatever happens and follow the flow, joy and sorrow cannot affect us. This is what the ancients called freedom from bondage.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE
(Zhuangzi)

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“When an archer is shooting for nothing, he has all his skill… But the prize divides him… He thinks more of winning than of shooting – the need to win drains him of power.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE
(Zhuangzi)

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“Whoever loves money never has enough.”

Koheleth c. 330–180 BCE
from Ecclesiastes קֹהֶלֶת‎

Themes: Greed Wealth

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“sages alone do not leave their sacred ground… They do not plan ahead yet do not abandon opportunity… They do not seek to gain yet do not reject misfortune.”

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

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“Fortune makes a fool of those she favors too much.”

Horace 65 – 8 BCE

Themes: Success

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“The greatest benefit that learning brings to men is… to like better the mean state than the higher.”

Plutarch 46 – 120 CE
(Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus)

Themes: Less is More

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“Here is a rule to remember in future, when anything tempts you to feel bitter: not ‘This is misfortune,’ but ‘To bear this worthily is good fortune.’”

Marcus Aurelius 121 – 219 CE

Themes: Appreciation

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“Or is it your reputation that's bothering you? But look at how soon we're all forgotten. The abyss of endless time that swallows it all. The emptiness of those applauding hands.”

Marcus Aurelius 121 – 219 CE

Themes: Fame

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“For I am one who strives for freedom. I must not be caught by wealth and honors.”

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

Themes: Fame Wealth Freedom

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“wealth eventually swallows its owner
spread it around and blessings grow
hoard it and disaster arises
no wealth no disaster
flap your wings in the blue”

Han Shan c. 730-850 CE
(Cold Mountain)

Themes: Wealth

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“Heroes seek fame and merchants seek wealth, even to the point of giving up their lives… But the more wealth they amass, the more they harm what they would truly enrich… The wise know the most precious thing is within themselves so they seek no wealth and encounter no trouble.”

Lu Huiqing 1031 – 1111 CE

Themes: Wealth Fame

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“Sun Face Buddha, Moon Face Buddha.”

Yuanwu Keqin 圜悟克勤 1063 – 1135 CE via J.C. and Thomas Cleary
(Yuánwù Kèqín)
from Blue Cliff Record, Biyan lu 碧巖錄

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“The wise know they have everything they need within themselves. Hence, they do not seek anything outside themselves.”

Li Xizhai 12th century CE via Red Pine
(Li Hsi-Chai)
from Tao-te-chen-ching yi-chieh

Themes: Desire

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“I don't want learning, or dignity, or respectability. I want this music, and this dawn, and the warmth of your cheek against mine”

Rumi مولانا جلال‌الدین محمد بلخی 1207 – 1283 CE
(Rumi Mawlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī)
from Masnavi مثنوي معنوي‎‎) "Rhyming Couplets of Profound Spiritual Meaning”

Themes: Education Music

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“The more we have the less we own.”

Meister Eckhart 1260 – 1328 CE
(Eckhart von Hochheim)

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“Money is a great servant but a bad master.”

Francis Bacon 1561 – 1626 CE

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“What a piece of work is a man! How noble… And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?”

William Shakespeare 1564 – 1616 CE
from Hamlet

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“Leave something to wish for. That way you will not be miserable from too much happiness… If one possessed all, all would be disillusion and discontent… Surfeits of happiness are fatal… when desire dies, fear is born.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE

Themes: Delusion Desire

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“Don't think money does everything or you are going to end up doing everything for money.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE

Themes: Money Economics

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“It is too difficult to think nobly when one thinks only of earning a living.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712 – 1778 CE

Themes: Livelihood

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“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE

Themes: Economics

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“The deed is everything; the fame is nothing.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE

Themes: Fame

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“I’ve never bothered about getting ahead… What use is there in fame and fortune? In my hut, I listen to the evening rain and stretch my legs without a care in the world.”

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

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“Riches are like sea water: the more you drink, the thirstier you become; and the same is true of fame.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE via T. Bailey Saunders
from Wisdom of Life

Themes: Wealth Fame

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“Though having all we need, we constantly seek more.”

Jamgon Kongtrul the Great འཇམ་མགོན་ཀོང་སྤྲུལ་བློ་གྲོས་མཐའ་ཡས། 1813 – 1899 CE via Judith Hanson
(Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thayé)
from Torch of Certainty

Themes: Consumerism

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“I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

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

Themes: Simplicity

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“that seemingly wealthy, but most terribly impoverished class of all, who have accumulated dross, but know not how to use it… and thus have forged their own golden or silver fetters.”

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

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“Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion.”

Mark Twain 1835 – 1910 CE
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)

Themes: Fame

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“Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.”

Robert Louis Stevenson 1850 – 1894 CE

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“And he was rich – yes, richer than a king.
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.”

Edwin Arlington Robinson 1869 – 1935 CE

Themes: Wealth

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“Will is of little importance, complaining is nothing, fame is nothing. Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude is everything.”

Rainer Maria Rilke 1875 – 1926 CE
Profound singer of universal music
from Duino Elegies

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“The trite objects of human efforts – possessions, outward success, luxury – have always seemed to me contemptible.”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE
from Ideas and Opinions

Themes: Materialism

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“The most pitiful among men is he who turns his dreams into silver and gold.”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE

Themes: Money

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“They deem me mad because I will not sell my days for gold; and I deem them mad because they think my days have a price.”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE

Themes: Livelihood

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“Cultivation of mind should be the ultimate aim of human existence.”

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

Themes: Meditation

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“The rich are always afraid.”

Pearl Buck 1892 – 1973 CE

Themes: Wealth Fear

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“Americans are bred like stuffed geese – to be consumers, not human beings. The moment they stop consuming and buying, the frog-skin world has no more use for them. They have become frogs themselves… this is the real world, not the Green Frog Skin World. That’s only a bad dream, a streamlined, smog-filled nightmare.”

John Fire Lame Deer 1903 – 1976 CE via Richard Erdoes
from Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions

Themes: Dream Consumerism

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“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.”

Anais Nin 1903 – 1977 CE

Themes: Moral Freedom

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“Earthly goods are given to be used, not to be collected. Hoarding is idolatry.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906 – 1945 CE

Themes: Greed

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“The cultivation and expansion of needs is the antithesis of wisdom. It is also the antithesis of freedom and peace. Every increase in needs tends to increase one's dependence on outside forces over which one cannot have control, and therefore increases existential fear. Only by a reduction of needs can one promote a genuine reduction in those tensions which are the ultimate causes of strife and war.”

E. F. Schumacher 1911 – 1977 CE

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“My wife loves me; ‘O what joys behind hibiscus curtains!’ My wife has left me; how peaceful it is now. Old Wang has a delicious concubine I have a charming blue-eyed cat.”

John Blofeld 1913 – 1987 CE

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“The average man acts only if there is a chance for profit. Warriors act not for profit but for the spirit.”

Carlos Castaneda 1925 – 1998 CE

Themes: Warriors

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“To gain your own voice you have to forget about having it heard.”

Allen Ginsberg 1926 – 1997 CE

Themes: Forget

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“we must save ourselves from the products that we are asked to buy”

Wendell Berry 1934 CE –

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“Man sacrifices his health in order to make money Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.”

Dalai Lama XIV Tenzin Gyatso 1935 CE –

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“The ultimate source of happiness is not money and power, but warm-heartedness.”

Dalai Lama XIV Tenzin Gyatso 1935 CE –

Themes: Happiness

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“If we are passionate, if we are in love or in a lustful state, we begin to feel that there is an enormous amount of glue sprayed all over the world… We want to be stuck to things, to objects, wealth, money, friends… so we begin to spray this crude glue all over the place. We are asking to be stuck.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Journey Without Goal

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“For those of you in the cheap seats I'd like ya to clap your hands to this one; the rest of you can just rattle your jewelry!”

John Lennon 1940 – 1980 CE

Themes: Equality

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“From Ushikawa’s perspective, they were irretrievably shallow. To him, their minds were dull, their vision narrow and devoid of imagination, and all they cared about was what other people thought… completely lacking in… any degree of wisdom.”

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE –

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“Men invented money. Women invented mutual aid.”

David Mitchell 1969 CE –
from The Bone Clocks

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Comments (1)

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  1. Shan Dao
    “The more we love something, the more it will cost” is from a comment by Li Xizhai or Li Hsi-Chai (1167), Tao-te-chen-ching yi-chieh, Red Pine translation