Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Chapter 45
Complete Perfection

The greatest perfection seems flawed
Yet has inexhaustible usefulness.
Perfectly full, it seems empty
Yet never runs dry.

True straightness looks crooked,
True skill looks clumsy,
True eloquence sounds tongue-tied.

Still, it overcomes the active;
Active, it overcomes the still.
Opposites complement each other
Becoming the peaceful and serene
That sets the universe in order.

Commentary

“When yang has reached its greatest strength, the dark power of yin is born within its depths; night begins at midday when yang breaks up and begins to change into yin.”

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

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“Roads were made for journeys not destinations.”

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

Themes: Travel

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“Resolved to die one can be killed.
Resolved to live, one can be captured.
Quick to anger, one can be goaded.
Pure and honest, one can be shamed.
Loving the people one can be aggravated.

All five are excesses.”

Sun Tzu 孙武 544 – 496 BCE
(Sun Zi)
HIstory's supreme strategist

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“He hewed the humans in two just as one cuts fruit for preservation… After that, with their natures hewn in two, each one missed the union with its other half… nor would it appear that we want anything else… cooperation and fusion - becoming one out of two. For this is the basis; this is our primeval nature, described as being whole.”

Plato Πλάτων 428 – 348 BCE

Themes: Oneness Marriage

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“Everything in the world is full of signs. All events are coordinated. All things depend on each other. Everything breathes together.”

Plotinus 204 – 249 CE
from Enneads Ἐννεάδες Plotinus / Porphyry

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“He who neglects to drink of the spring of experience is likely to die of thirst in the desert of ignorance.”

Li Bai 李白 701 – 762 CE
(Li Bo)

Themes: Ignorance

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“Now I know the pearl of the Buddha-nature, know its use: a boundless perfect sphere”

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

Themes: Enlightenment

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“Every single sight and sound is but the Buddha’s Eye of Wisdom.”

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

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“Glance at the sun. See the moon and stars. Gaze at the beauty of the green earth. Now think.”

Hildegard of Bingen 1098 – 1179 CE

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“To treat the complete as complete, the full as full, the straight as straight, and the clever as clever is mundane. To treat what seems deficient as complete, what seems empty as full, what seems crooked as straight, what seems clumsy as clever, this is transcendent.”

Wu Cheng 吴澄 1249 – 1333 CE via Red Pine
"Mr. Grass Hut"
from Tao-te-chen-ching-chu

Themes: Paradox

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“I have never met a man so ignorant I could not learn something from him.”

Galileo 1564 – 1642 CE

Themes: Appreciation

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“Without contraries is no progression. Attraction and repulsion, reason and energy, love and hate, are necessary to human existence.”

William Blake 1757 – 1827 CE

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“Educate the senses to see the ordinary as extraordinary, the familiar as strange, the mundane as sacred, the finite as infinite.”

Novalis 1772 – 1831 CE

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“Little minds are interested in the extraordinary; great minds in the commonplace.”

Elbert Hubbard 1856 – 1915 CE

Themes: Ordinary Mind

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“Fortunately, some are born with spiritual immune systems that sooner or later give rejection to the illusory worldview grafted upon them from birth through social conditioning.”

Henri-Louis Bergson 1859 – 1941 CE
from Creative Evolution

Themes: Moral Freedom

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“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is any reaction both are transformed.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE
Insightful shamanistic scientist

Themes: Friendship

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“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”

Martin Buber מרטין בובר‎‎ 1878 – 1965 CE
from Ich und Du, I and Thou

Themes: Travel

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“I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind.”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE

Themes: Kindness

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“There is not a human being from whom we cannot learn something if we are interested enough to dig deep.”

Eleanor Roosevelt 1884 – 1962 CE

Themes: Appreciation

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“Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow.”

T. S. Eliot 1888 – 1965 CE

Themes: Moon

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“We Sioux spend a lot of time thinking about everyday things… We see in the world around us many symbols that teach us the meaning of life.”

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

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“The most important thing is to forget all gaining ideas, all dualistic ideas… Then eventually you will resume your own true nature. This is to say, your own true nature resumes itself.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi 1904 – 1971 CE

Themes: Wu Wei

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“Learn to see everyday life as a mandala in which one is the center and be free of the bias and prejudice of past conditioning, present desires, and future hopes and expectations… be natural and spontaneous, accept and learn from everything.”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche དིལ་མགོ་མཁྱེན་བརྩེ། 1910 – 1991 CE
"Mind" incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
from Maha Ati

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“The past is but a present memory or condition, the future a present projection, and the present itself vanishes before it can be grasped.”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche དིལ་མགོ་མཁྱེན་བརྩེ། 1910 – 1991 CE
"Mind" incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
from Maha Ati

Themes: Projection

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“Acoustic Space has the basic character of a sphere whose focus or center is simultaneously everywhere and whose margin is nowhere.”

Marshall McLuhan 1911 – 1980 CE

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“Everything is true and not true about everything. That’s one thing I’ve learned.”

John Lennon 1940 – 1980 CE

Themes: Paradox

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“the more desperately we try to be good and wonderful and perfect, the more Shadow develops a definite will to be black and evil and destructive.”

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE – via Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel
from 1Q84

Themes: Projection

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