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 via Richard Wilhelm, Hexagram 5
c. 2852–2737 BCE
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.”

The Buddha गौतम बुद्ध
(Siddhartha Shakyamuni Gautama)
563 – 483 BCE
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
(Zhuangzi)
369 – 286 BCE

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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
(Zhuangzi)
369 – 286 BCE

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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 via Thomas Cleary
(Huainanzi)
c. 179–122 BCE
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
(Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus)
46 – 120 CE

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།།།
(Bhusuku, Śāntideva)
685 – 763 CE
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
(Cold Mountain)
c. 730-850 CE

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 via J.C. and Thomas Cleary
(Yuánwù Kèqín)
1063 – 1135 CE
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 via Red Pine
(Li Hsi-Chai)
12th century CE
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
(Rumi Mawlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī)
1207 – 12783 CE
from Masnavi مثنوي معنوي‎‎) "Rhyming Couplets of Profound Spiritual Meaning”

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“The more we have the less we own.”

Meister Eckhart
(Eckhart von Hochheim)
1260 – 1328 CE

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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.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
1749 – 1832 CE

Themes: Economics

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

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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
(Ryōkan Taigu,“The Great Fool”)
1758 – 1758 CE

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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 via T. Bailey Saunders
1788 – 1860 CE
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། via Judith Hanson
(Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thayé)
1813 – 1899 CE
from Torch of Certainty

Themes: Consumerism

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

Mark Twain
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
1835 – 1910 CE

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
(Babasaheb)
1891 – 1956 CE

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 via Richard Erdoes
1903 – 1976 CE
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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“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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“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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“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